Death count rises: 5th dolphin turns up dead on a New Jersey beach
🔴 The bottlenose dolphin was found Monday night on an Avalon beach
🔴 A necropsy is yet to be performed to determine the cause of death
🔴 A whale was also found Monday floating in a shipping channel
AVALON — A dolphin washed up on a beach Monday night hours after a whale was found floating in a shipping channel along the New Jersey-New York border.
The Marine Mammal Stranding Center said the 8-foot bottlenose dolphin was brought to its facility in Brigantine, where a necropsy will be performed. Preliminary results were not yet available Tuesday afternoon.
The deaths of the whale and dolphin are the latest in a dramatic number of such reports since December, which has fueled opposition to off-shore wind energy development. A number of environmentalists and shore mayors, who were already against off-shore wind development for unrelated reasons, have been urging state and federal officials to pause the work.
Gov. Phil Murphy insists that the marine mammal deaths are unrelated to the off-shore wind work, pointing to necropsies blaming vessel strikes for the deaths.
Rising number of deaths
A dolphin found along the Shrewsbury River on Feb. 22 had to be euthanized after it was pushed back into the water by concerned people. The Center says the public should never push a stranded animal back into deeper water. Doing so may prolong an animal's suffering and could prevent potential medical intervention.
Three dolphins were found struggling in the shallow water off Sandy Hook on Feb. 19 but died by the time members of the stranding center arrived at the Monmouth County beach.
A battle over why marine life is dying
The count of dead whales found dead climbed to 13 when a whale was found floating dead near Ambrose Channel, the main shipping channel in and out of the Port of New York and New Jersey.
New Jersey's two Republican congressmen, Chris Smith and Jeff Van Drew, and 30 mayors are leading an effort for a pause in wind energy projects off the coastline to allow for an investigation into their impact.
“There is great concern for the potential serious — even catastrophic — damage to marine ecosystems leading to the destruction of New Jersey’s fishing and tourism businesses if hundreds, and even thousands, of wind turbines are installed off the New Jersey coast," Smith said during a rally in Point Pleasant Beach on Feb. 19.
Murphy and the Marine Mammal Commission have dismissed the request and said there is no evidence linking the deaths to the projects.
The commission said the number of whale strandings is not unusual. Ten or more humpback whales have stranded each year since 2016, with a high of 34 in 2017
It said the number of whales in the northeast is growing, something other agencies have noted as well. As the population grows, more whales are choosing to spend the winter in the northeast, where they are more vulnerable to being struck by ships or entangled in fishing gear, instead of migrating to warmer areas.
Previous reporting by Dino Flammia, Rick Rickman, Erin Vogt and the Associated Press was used in this report
Dan Alexander is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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