Dead Whale in New Jersey Had Fractured Skull

Blunt force trauma is the cause of death, though the cause of it isn't clear
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 12, 2024 2:44 PM CDT
Dead Whale in New Jersey Had Fractured Skull
A wave crashes around a dead humpback whale in Long Beach Township on New Jersey's Long Beach Island on Thursday, April 11, 2024.   (AP Photo/Wayne Parry)

A post-mortem examination of a whale that washed ashore on New Jersey's Long Beach Island found that the animal had sustained numerous blunt force injuries including a fractured skull and vertebrae, per the AP. The Marine Mammal Stranding Center on Friday released observations from a necropsy done on the nearly 25-foot juvenile male humpback whale. Sheila Dean, director of the center, said the whale was found to have bruising around the head; multiple fractures of the skull and cervical vertebrae; numerous dislocated ribs, and a dislocated shoulder bone.

"These injuries are consistent with blunt force trauma," she wrote in a posting on the group's Facebook page. Reached afterward, Dean would not attribute the injuries to any particular cause, noting that extensive testing as part of the necropsy remains to be done, with tissue samples sent to laboratories across the country. "We only report what we see," she said. The animal's cause of death is of intense interest to many amid an ongoing controversy involving a belief by opponents of offshore wind power that site preparation work for the projects is harming or killing whales along the East Coast.

Numerous scientific agencies, including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, say there is no evidence linking offshore wind preparation to whale deaths. Leading Light Wind, one of three wind farms proposed off the New Jersey coast, said in a statement that "our community should guard against misinformation campaigns in response to these incidents," noting that many of the previous whale deaths have been attributed by scientists to vessel strikes or entanglement with fishing gear.

(More whales stories.)

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