Marine mammal experts are working to determine how a harbor porpoise that washed ashore earlier this week in Lavallette died.
The approximately 60 pound, 57-inch male marine mammal was discovered on the Trenton Avenue beach on Monday, said Marine Mammal Stranding Center Co-Director Sheila Dean.
Birds were scavenging on the harbor porpoise’s left cheek, Dean said, adding that the animal was removed from the beach for a necropsy.
Harbor porpoises are currently passing through New Jersey as they migrate north, according to Dean.
They are the smallest cetacean in the Atlantic Ocean territory off the United States, born at 32-inches and growing to 6-feet, and distinguished by a very short, broad snout and a small triangular dorsal fin midway down their back, Dean said. The cetacean family includes whales and dolphins.
Their diet consists of herring, mackerel, squid, and schooling fish.