Diane Beal Sturniolo was in the right place at the right time last weekend.
She was standing near the shoreline in the Monterey Beach section of Toms River on Saturday when a whale started breaching and flashing its tail.
“Pretty amazing!” she wrote on the Jersey Shore Hurricane News (JSHN) Facebook page.
Earlier in the spring, whale were migrating north from the Caribbean for the warmer months, according to Gotham Whale, a New York City-based organization that studies and advocates for marine mammals along with educating the public. Citizen scientists help inform the organization’s activities.
While some of the whales currently off the Jersey Shore will remain in the area, a Gotham Whale spokesperson said, others have migrated to the waters off Maine and the Canadian provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia to feed.
“It’s the growing population in our area that we are researching and cataloging,” the spokesperson tweeted.
Humpback whales mate during the winter months, when they survive off fat stores, or blubber, that is built-up during the spring and summer months, according to a NOAA guide on the species.
JSHN contributors captured images of whales during the southern migration last fall here and here. Whales can also be spotted at the Jersey Shore during the summer. Last month, a fisherman off untangled a whale from netting off Ocean County.
Federal law requires vessels keep a distance of 100 yards from humpback whales.