6 dolphins, porpoises strand themselves in 4 days at the Jersey Shore
🔴 Four dolphins, a porpoise and an unknown mammal washed up between Thursday & Sunday
🔴 A whale also washed up Friday on Long Island
🔴 Necropsies are pending for the dolphins
Six marine mammals were found stranded along the Jersey Shore since Thursday, according to the Marine Mammal Stranding Center.
After a lull in reports of dolphins, whale and porpoise strandings, the past five days saw an increase, starting Wednesday with a bottlenose dolphin in the Delaware Bay at the Rutgers Cape Shore Laboratory in Middle Township.
Three other dolphins were found on Sunday, bringing the total number of stranded dolphins to 34.
A porpoise and an unknown species
A sub-adult male harbor porpoise stranded in Spring Lake was the third since December. Marine Mammal Stranding Center volunteers said the porpoise was badly decomposed, "heavily scavenged" and its head was skeletonized. The township disposed of the carcass.
The species of the mammal off Forked River was not able to be identified as it never washed ashore.
The stranding center did not disclose the exact location where the animals were found.
The Atlantic Marine Conservation Society said a 28-foot-long whale washed up onto Robert Moses Beach State Park in Long Island. A preliminary necropsy found scarring associated with a previous entanglement and areas of hemorrhage consistent with suspected blunt-force trauma.
No whales have been stranded in New Jersey since March.
Hearing blames climate change
The strandings came the same day an Assembly Science, Innovation and Technology Committee hearing where experts testified that the strandings are the result of climate change, warmer oceans and changing migration patterns.
Other experts testifying before the committee — including Danielle Brown, the director of research for Gotham Whale; Josh Kohut, a professor of oceanography at Rutgers University; Sheila Dean the director of the Marine Mammal Stranding Center — said that while a majority of whale deaths have taken place because of vessel strikes, no scientific cause for why this is happening has been established yet.
State Sen. Anthony Bucco, R-Morris described the hearing as a "one-sided conversation devoid of critical perspectives."
“There was not a single voice that was critical of any aspect of offshore wind development or its impact on marine mammals. It’s unfortunate that the opposing viewpoints were not even considered. What could have been an open, healthy debate turned into a one-sided conversation," Bucco said.
Bucco and other legislative Republicans, Jersey Shore mayors and GOP Reps. Chris Smith and Jeff Van Drew have called for a pause in work on wind energy projects to investigate whether it is responsible for the increase in marine deaths.
135 stranded dolphins between 2013 and 2015
An Unusual Mortality Event was declared on the East Coast from New York to Broward County, Florida from 2013 to 2015 after 1,600 bottlenose dolphins were stranded during the event, including approximately 69 live dolphins, according to NOAA Fisheries.
The cause of the UME was cetacean morbillivirus infections, a virus that affects dolphins in the same family as measles. Of those, 153 were stranded in New Jersey.
Previous reporting by David Matthau was used in this report. Erin Vogt contributed to this report.