Dead humpback whale found adrift in Raritan Bay

A deceased humpback whale was sighted adrift in the Raritan Bay on Wednesday, the first one to strand or wash ashore on the coast here in over two months.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration spokesperson Andrea Gomez said they received the report of the dead whale from the Atlantic Marine Conservation Society on Wednesday. The society is part of NOAA's marine mammal stranding network.

Gomez said the Army Corps of Engineers and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection towed the whale toward shore on Thursday. They are planning to examine the whale on Friday in an attempt determine the cause of death.

First responders remove an approximately 30ft juvenile humpback whale that died at sea and washed up on the L Street beach.Seaside Park, NJThursday, March 2, 2023

Capt. Tom Buban of the party fishing boat Atlantic Star said he's observed several humpback whales feeding in the bay since the start of fluke season on May 2 when he began making daily fishing trips. He said the whale had drifted all the way to the back of Raritan Bay, near Keansburg. Buban said

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The whale is the 11th to strand in New Jersey since Dec. 1, but the first since a severely decomposed pygmy whale washed up in Ocean City on March 28.

NOAA, meanwhile, also confirmed on social media that a deceased humpback whale was also afloat Wednesday in the ocean off the coast of Long Island near the town of Wainscott.

More: NJ whale deaths: See the full list to learn how each of them died

The whale deaths have ignited a fierce political debate over the cause. Groups such as the Long Branch-based environmental organization Clean Ocean Action and numerous New Jersey politicians, have called for thorough investigations into the whales' deaths and a moratorium on offshore wind development activity off New Jersey until a cause of the strandings is determined.

Some opponents to the offshore wind farms blamed the activities of the survey boats that are sounding the ocean floor as the source of the injuries to the whales. Federal and state authorities such as NOAA, Gov. Phil Murphy and the state Department of Environmental Protection, however, have said there is no link between the wind farm activities and the whale deaths.

Since 2017, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, has recorded and monitored ongoing unusual mortality events, or abnormally high death counts, among Atlantic humpbacks and North Atlantic right whales. NOAA officials say evidence of ship strikes and fishing gear entanglement appear to explain the higher-than-normal deaths.

When Jersey Shore native Dan Radel is not reporting the news, you can find him in a college classroom where he is a history professor. Reach him @danielradelapp; 732-643-4072;

This article originally appeared on Asbury Park Press: Dead humpback whale found adrift in Raritan Bay