According to experts, there are only about 400 North Atlantic Right Whales in existence...and unfortunately, one has been spotted in bad condition off the Jersey Shore.

Over the weekend, a whale-watching trip spotted the whale about three miles off the coast of Sea Bright. Staff from the Gotham Whale noticed the animal had a number of lines wrapped around its body, and looked to be in very poor condition.

Paul Sieswerda, Gotham Whale’s executive director, said

It looked very emaciated, and had been impacted by entanglement. So it did not look good.

After looking at photos, biologists from the Marine Mammal Stranding Center in Brigantine, the New England Aquarium and the Center for Coastal Studies believe that the whale is in "extremely poor condition, with large lesions on its body. The whale has two visible lines partially embedded around its head and likely has a more complex entanglement that needs additional documentation."

My first instinct is to yell "just go cut the lines off!" but obviously this isn't the sort of thing that any random person can do. We've all read those incredible stories where an injured animal somehow senses that a human is trying to help, but that isn't necessarily going to be the case in every situation. This animal is huge, it's starving, it's scared, and there's no guarantee it would remain calm enough to let a person get close enough to cut the lines.

My coworker Justin @ WOBM shared this story, and there was an interesting comment on Facebook that seemed like a happy ending:


I don't want to cast doubt on Mr. Skorney, but I haven't seen any other stories that talk about a team making a dive to rescue the animal. I'll keep an eye on the NOAA Fisheries website for any updates.

UPDATE: On October 14th, the NOAA said:

We are still looking for a good weather window to get a team into the air to try and locate the whale and further document its entanglement and injuries, but the current marine forecast makes this unlikely for a few more days. Mariners off New Jersey: Please keep an eye out for this whale and report any sightings immediately to (866) 755-6622 or Coast Guard Channel 16.


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