BRIGANTINO, NJ – Marine conservation officials say the latest whale found dead off the New Jersey shore appears to have been struck by a vessel.
The Marine Mammal Center said Sunday that preliminary autopsy results of a humpback whale that washed up Thursday at the North End Wildlife Area in Brigantine showed the animal had “blunt injuries consistent with a ship impact.”
“Injuries and hemorrhages were observed on the head and chest, as well as along the right side and pectoral fin,” the center said in a statement. “These results will be confirmed by laboratory analysis in the coming weeks.”
The whale was a 32-foot-7-inch female that weighed about 12 tons and appeared to be in good condition, judging by the thickness of its blubber, the center said.
SEE ALSO: Another dead whale washes ashore in New Jersey, this time in Brigantine
“The whale’s stomach was full of partially digested fish and the intestines contained feces, indicating that the whale had been actively feeding prior to these injuries,” the center said.
“Collisions with vessels and fishing gear entanglement are the largest known human threats to whales of all species,” the center said. “While there has been speculation as to whether these whale deaths are related to wind energy development, at this time the whale deaths have not been linked to offshore wind activity.”
Brigantine, north of Atlantic City, has seen two more dead whales washed up on its beaches in recent weeks, among seven that have died in just over a month in New Jersey and New York.
Some lawmakers have called for a temporary pause in ocean floor preparation for offshore wind projects in the two states. The governor of New Jersey said he did not agree with the idea. A majority of New Jersey environmental groups called the link between the deaths and offshore wind projects “unsubstantiated and premature.”
The center also said there are currently many large whales in New Jersey waters, likely attracted by the small fish they feed on, which also attract striped bass or striped bass. Officials urged boaters to travel slowly (less than 10 knots) and watch for whales.
SEE ALSO: Environmental activists demand investigation into Jersey Shore whale deaths
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