Humpback Whale Washes Up on Little Beach, Off LBI’s Southern Tip
A 35-foot dead humpback whale was reported on Little Beach last Friday, Jan. 13. The Marine Mammal Stranding Center in Brigantine investigated, took measurements and could only determine that it probably was not killed by a boat strike.
The whale was partially buried in the sand on the island that is located between Holgate and Brigantine and is part of the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge and off-limits to boaters.
On Tuesday Bob Schoelkopf, director and founder of the Stranding Center, said as far as he knew the whale’s carcass was still there.
In September, humpback whales were taken off the endangered species list because their population was determined to have rebounded, but that does not mean that they are out of danger, said Schoelkopf. “They are still a rare sight and their population has not rebounded to the point where they are everywhere like dolphins, for example,” he said.
According to the center website, many threats still exist, including boat strikes, entanglements in commercial fishing gear, habitat loss and harassment by whale watcher boats.
The nonprofit Marine Mammal Stranding Center is the only unit in New Jersey that responds to calls for help when seals, dolphins, whales and sea turtles are injured or sick along New Jersey’s Atlantic Ocean coastline and rehabilitates those that have a chance of survival back in the wild. It also responds to incidents of fatalities and keeps scrupulous records that aid the scientific community on the health of marine mammal species in the state. There is no permanent source of funding so the MMSC exists on donations, grants and memberships. —P.J.