Marine Mammal Stranding Center Releases Information on Dead Whale

MANASQUAN: The Marine Mammal Stranding Center released an update on the deceased humpback whale that washed ashore at Manasquan Beach on February 13th-
Yesterday on February 14th, necropsy teams from Marine Mammal Stranding Center (MMSC) and Atlantic Marine Conservation Society (AMSEAS) conducted an initial exam on the beach, then the whale was moved to a Monmouth County facility where a necropsy was conducted. The remains were disposed of in the County landfill. The whale was an approximately 35-foot female. The whale was identified by Gotham Whale as NYC 0298 and was first seen feeding in the area on January 7, 2023. This was the first and only time this whale was documented.
The animal was in a state of advanced decomposition, which limited the necropsy. However, tissue samples were taken and will be sent out for analysis. The whale was in good body condition and there were no obvious signs of external trauma. However, the internal examination showed evidence of vessel strike. There is not always obvious external evidence of vessel strikes, which is why internal exams are important. The results of the tissue analysis will help us determine if the vessel strike occurred before or after death.
Humpback whales are frequent visitors to New Jersey waters, where schools of small bait fish are a good food source. Since December 1, six humpback whales have stranded in New Jersey, and have been examined by stranding teams to help determine cause of death. One additional dead humpback whale was reported floating off NJ in January, but was never seen again. NOAA Fisheries stranding network partners are actively investigating these strandings as part of the humpback whale Unusual Mortality Event that was declared in 2016. That investigation is ongoing, and data from this whale will contribute to understanding of the causes of the UME.
We thank the MMSC and AMSEAS stranding response teams for their rapid response, professionalism, and adaptability as changing circumstances unfolded. We would also like to thank the Monmouth County Department of Public Works and Engineering, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), Wall Township, and the Borough of Manasquan for their assistance with moving the whale to the County facility. We also greatly appreciate NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement and NJ DEP for their on the ground support for this stranding event.
There are currently active Seasonal Management Areas off all major ports in the mid-Atlantic region, including the ports of New York/New Jersey, which are in effect through April 30, 2023. All vessels 65 feet or longer must travel at 10 knots or less in these areas. Additionally, there are currently three active voluntary SLOW Zones in effect from Nantucket to Chesapeake Bay. Maintaining speeds of 10 knots or less can help protect all large whales from vessel collisions.

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