SEA ISLE CITY, N.J. (CBS) – Beach-goers in Sea Isle were shocked Friday afternoon to find a dead 33-foot humpback whale washed ashore.
One day later “he’s part of the 20th Street dune.”
Bob Schoelkopf, founding director of the Marine Mammal Stranding Center in Brigantine says the whale’s remains were buried right where the animal was discovered.
“It’s underground, about eight feet down. People will probably come down next year and not even know that they’re putting their blankets and chairs on top of a whale.”
Officials determined the cause of death to be “human interaction,” from being entangled by commercial fishing line.
Hundreds of people stopped by to check out the whale for themselves after it washed ashore, many calling it “fascinating,” others “extremely sad.” Experts estimated the whale had been out in the water for four or five days after it died and was hit by a boat before it reach shored. When it arrived on land, the animal was decomposing and already had a strong odor.
Schoelkopf adds while whales washing ashore is rare, it does happen once or twice a year in New Jersey.
Besides the beached whale, MMSC staff also responded to a dolphin stranding in Lavalette and a deceased sea turtle in Love Ladies this weekend. Officials are now in the process of determining a cause of death for dolphin, who died as MMSC was responding to the scene. Schoelkopf said the turtle had been hit by a boat and died from its injuries.
Anyone who comes across a whale or any other unusual creature on the beach is asked to call the Stranding Center at 609-266-0538 or notify the police immediately.