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Whale Suffered Tragic Accident Before Washing Up On Jersey Shore, Experts Say

Whale who washed up in Brigantine Jan. 12.
Whale who washed up in Brigantine Jan. 12. Photo Credit: Marine Mammal Stranding Center

A 32-foot whale had been actively feeding and was in good condition before she washed up last week on the Jersey Shore with blunt-force injuries, leading experts to believe she had been struck by a boat.

The female whale found on the North End Natural Area in Brigantine on Thursday, Jan. 12, "suffered blunt trauma injuries consistent with those from a vessel strike," the Marine Mammal Stranding Center said citing results of a necropsy. 

"Injuries and hemorrhaging were observed on the head and thoracic region, as well as along the right side and the pectoral flipper."

The whale measured 32 feet and 7 inches long, estimated to weigh about 12 tons. Blubber thickness indicated that the whale was in good condition, and her stomach was full of partially digested fish with was fecal matter in the intestines — indicating the whale had been actively feeding prior to these injuries.

"Vessel strikes and entanglement in fishing gear are the largest known human threats to whales of all species," the MMSC said. "Although there has been speculation about whether these whale deaths are linked to wind energy development, at this point no whale mortality has been attributed to offshore wind activities."

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