Can’t help trapped Raritan Bay whale until after holiday weekend
NEW YORK — Any efforts to help disentangle a whale spotted in the waters off the Jersey Shore will wait until boat traffic calms down after the July 4 holiday weekend.
The whale — believed to be a humpback — was spotted on Saturday in the Raritan Bay with a buoy rope in its mouth. A safety zone enforced by the Coast Guard is no longer in effect but boaters are asked to keep an eye out for the animal.
As of Tuesday afternoon the plan is to keep an eye out for the whale until around July 8, and then determine whether further action is needed, according to Jennifer Goebel of NOAA. Goebel said that while NOAA and the Coast Guard are not actively monitoring the whale for its location and condition, the public is asked to keep an eye out and to report any sightings.
As for why they are waiting a week to help the animal Goebel said during a busy week like this, and with high temperatures it was determined that waiting was the safer bet.
"The whale isn't in any immediate danger," she said. "If that changes of course we'll change our plans. But right now that's how we're operating."
If it reaches the point where more action is needed, Goebel said there is a specially trained team that will know how to free the whale.
Whales swimming so close to shore is not unusual, and Goebel said it is usually a case of them following food. While the whale may not be in danger, Goebel said there is always a risk of boaters not seeing the whale before they collide. She said when that happens it can be "bad for the whale and bad for the boater."