A dead whale washed ashore in Toms River, NJ, on Tuesday evening, offering a startling (and stinking) sight for beachgoers and surfers trying to catch a quick session today in challenging conditions. (New York, on the other hand, went off thanks to northerly winds.)
The 43-foot-long whale carcass came to rest along North Surf Road beach in Toms River, where Township resident Kerry Frew watched the beaching unfold, according to NJ.com. “It took about a half an hour for it to get up here, because it was clearly already dead and moving really slow,” Frew told the online news outlet. “You could tell right away that it was a whale. And it looked like it had been bit by a shark, because it looks like there are shark bites all over it.”
The striking sight coincides with an expected announcement from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Marine Fisheries about what DelawareOnline.com called a whale “mortality event” in the region. Dead whales have recently been found off the coast of Long Beach Island, along the Cohansey River, and on in Island Beach State Park, along with off the coast of Delaware. In addition, five strandings have occurred off the Mid-Atlantic/Northeast coast this year — four in Virginia and one in Long Island. Last weekend, a juvenile minke whale also beached itself in the Bronx and had to be euthanized.
A U.S. News & World Report story revealed that the deceased whale was first spotted floating off the New York coast by a cruise ship three days ago. Persistent N/NE winds since then pushed it south toward New Jersey, where local authorities surrounded the carcass with crime scene tape to keep spectators at bay. Workers from the Brigantine-based Marine Mammal Stranding Center deployed giant knives attached to 6-foot wooden poles to cut the whale into smaller pieces, after which public works crews used front-end loaders to haul the pieces of the carcass away for disposal.
Although the whale was mangled by presumed shark bites and rotted in some places, Bob Schoelkopf of the Marine Mammal Stranding Center speculated that it may have been a Sei whale, which inhabits nearly all oceans and adjoining seas, excluding exceedingly warm and unusually cold tropical and polar regions. According to the World Wildlife Foundation, Sei whales can reach speeds of up to 30 mph, even with a weight ranging between 80,000 – 100,000 pounds.