A third humpback whale in about a month washed up at the Jersey Shore over the weekend, concerning both residents and conservationists.
Atlantic City officials say the 30-foot adult humpback whale was discovered on the beach near South Mississippi Avenue Saturday, only a few blocks from where another whale washed ashore on Christmas weekend.
Spectators watched as scientists began a necropsy on Sunday.
“It is ripe,” said Cecile Herskovitz, who lives in Atlantic City. She said the smell isn’t the only thing bothering her and her neighbors.
“I’ve lived here for many years and I can’t remember the last time I saw or heard a whale washing up on shore,” said Robin Shaffer from Ocean City.
The city brought in scientists from the Atlantic Conservation Society from New York to perform the necropsy.
“You thoroughly go through the animal, open it up, find out what happened with each organ, if you can, if everything is still in tact,” explained Sheila Dean, the director of the Marine Mammal Stranding Center. “Everybody is concerned and there is what NOAA fisheries is calling an ‘unusual mortality event’ of humpback whales,” she said, noting Atlantic City isn’t the only place where humpback whales are washing ashore.
Some protesters on the beach Sunday speculate an offshore wind turbine project may have something to do with this.
“We’ve never had this number of whale deaths and beachings ever as far as I recall,” said Frank Leone from Protect our Coast New Jersey.
Still, experts say it’s too early to tell and it could take months to figure out why this whale died.
“They could blame maybe the Navy sonar. They could blame the fisherman. They could blame the pollution. They could blame people who throw plastic bags and still use them,” said Dean.
She said it could take months to find a cause; after all, scientists have about 30 tons of whale to inspect.
The city says it will be burying the whale on the beach. It’s simply too big to move.