A whale that washed ashore Wednesday morning in Ocean County was so badly decomposed that marine mammal experts say they can’t determine its cause of death.
The 43-foot whale discovered near the shoreline in the Chadwick Beach section of Toms River had been dead for days and chewed on by sharks.
The Brigantine-based Marine Mammal Stranding Center was only able to perform a limited necropsy on the 40 to 50-ton whale, which had to be quickly cut into pieces and hauled away from the beach because it was a health hazard.
A video posted on Facebook by Brianne Liddle shows crews moving the whale Wednesday afternoon. The animal might have been a Sei whale, but its condition made even that determination difficult to make.
In total, 41 dead humpback whales have been recently discovered between Maine and North Carolina, prompting the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Marine Fisheries to declare an “unusual mortality event” on Thursday. That action triggers a “focused, expert investigation into the cause.”
Late last April, photographer and blogger Jerry Meaney snapped photos of a whale feeding near the Manasquan Inlet, which separates Ocean and Monmouth counties.
“It’s a growing population in our area that we are researching and cataloging,” a spokesperson said.
Federal law requires vessels keep a distance of 100 yards from whales.