🐳 The whale was freed or coaxed twice from the shallow water of Barnegat Bay

🐳 The on-again, off-again stranding may indicate serious health issues

🐳 The Marine Mammal Stranding Center had the whale towed to the shore


The 22-foot minke whale that stranded and unstranded itself several times in Barnegat Bay has died.

The Marine Mammal Stranding Center said the whale was freed or coaxed twice from the shallow water Sunday and was last seen swimming in the middle of the bay Tuesday. The whale beached itself again several more times. It also became weaker and its body began to decline.

"Her body condition began to decline, with skin sloughing off the exposed parts of her body. The whale had become very lethargic and would no longer open her eyes," the MMSC said in a statement.

A veterinarian examined the whale in the shallow water of Sedge Island in Barnegat Bay adjacent to Island Beach State Park where it was non-responsive and determined it was suffering. It could not recover from the multiple strandings, the vet determined, and the whale was humanely euthanized, according to the MMSC.

Whale died on Thursday

The was towed to Island Beach State Park Thursday evening where its carcass was secured.  It could not be buried on the beach because of the threat to groundwater by the chemical used to euthanize it.

It was transferred to a vehicle and taken to another location for a necropsy where fish bones were found in its stomach and a heavy load of parasites in the GI tract. There were no signs of trauma.

Samples were collected and will be sent for histopathologic analysis.

MMSC member with whale near Barnegat Bay
MMSC member with whale near Barnegat Bay (MMSC)

Cause of death

Andrea Gomez of NOAA Fisheries offered a possible explanation about the whale's behavior. She said each stranding is different and the U.S. Marine Mammal Stranding Network responds to better understand the reasons for the stranding.

"In many instances, whales have underlying serious health conditions including natural toxins such as domoic acid or saxitoxin poisoning, disease, emaciation, and human-caused injuries. In some cases, a relatively healthy animal may strand due to topographic and oceanographic conditions, weather, or acute disturbance, generally human-caused," Gomez told New Jersey 101.5 in an email.

Humpback whale necropsy on Aug. 13, 2023. (Michael McKenna via MMSC)
Humpback whale necropsy on Aug. 13, 2023. (Michael McKenna via MMSC)

Why so many strandings?

The whale is the 16th to strand itself on a Jersey Shore beach in 2023, according to the MMSC.

Supporters of wind power development off the Jersey Shore say there is no scientific connection between the deaths and work mapping the ocean floor to prepare for construction.

Opponents of the projects will hold a rally in Point Pleasant Beach on Saturday on the boardwalk next to Jenkinson's main pavilion at 11 a.m., rain or shine. U.S. Rep. Chris Smith R-N.J. 4th District, Point Pleasant Mayor Paul Kanitra and Seaside Park Mayor John Peterson are scheduled to attend.

Report a correction 👈 | 👉 Contact our newsroom

Windfarm projects proposed for NJ coast — and what they might look like

These are the wind energy projects approved for and planned for the ocean off the coasts of New Jersey and New York. While the projects have the support of officials who say they will stimulate the local economy and create renewable energy to power millions of homes, many coastal residents have raised concerns about how the projects will impact tourism and the environment.

The gallery includes competing photosimulations — those on file with the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and those recently commissioned by a group opposed to the wind farm development.

Gallery Credit: New Jersey 101.5

THAT'S SUS! Slang kids and teens now say and what the heck it means

According to a comprehensive list from yourteenmag.com, these are some of the slang words and phrases kids and teenagers are using today that some older generations might not understand.

Gallery Credit: Mike Brant

Animals gone wild in NJ: Turkeys, tigers, snakes, bears and more

The best of animal encounters — real and a few rumored — from around New Jersey.

Gallery Credit: Erin Vogt

More From 94.5 PST