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Two boat strikes killed whale on Long Branch, NJ beach

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🐋 A whale washed up on a Long Branch beach earlier this month

🐋 An initial necropsy found that the death was the result of a boat strike

🐋 The resilient mammal had been hit by a boat last year and survived


LONG BRANCH — A humpback whale that survived and recovered from a boat strike last year was killed by a second more recent boat strike, according to the Marine Mammal Stranding Center.

Lifeguards spotted the 27-foot-long juvenile male whale floating off the coast of the Elberon section of Long Branch on Aug. 12. The carcass washed ashore at Takanasee Beach along Ocean Avenue.

A team of experts from the MMSC and Atlantic Marine Conservation Society conducted a preliminary necropsy on the whale on Aug. 13. The whale was then buried in the sand at the beach.

Whale in Long Branch 8/12/23 (Atlantic Lifeguard Alliance via Facebook)

Whale in Long Branch 8/12/23 (Atlantic Lifeguard Alliance via Facebook)

Initial results found that the whale had suffered “blunt force trauma to the caudal head and neck region” as a result of a boat strike. The examination found that the whale had been feeding on fish before it was fatally hit.

The humpback also had a clear previous injury unrelated to the recent boat strike — one side of its tail fluke had been severed. Observers frequently saw this whale in the waters off New Jersey and first noticed the injury to its tail fluke in 2022. Somehow, the whale survived the trauma until it was struck by a second boat, according to the MMSC.

Humpback whale necropsy on Aug. 13, 2023. (Michael McKenna via MMSC)

Humpback whale necropsy on Aug. 13, 2023. (Michael McKenna via MMSC)

“Our entire team is deeply saddened by the death of this beautiful whale that we have come to know as a resilient individual who, after enduring a devastating injury, was able to adapt to his compromised fluke and carry on,” the MMSC said on Facebook.

MORE: Dead whale washes ashore on Long Branch, NJ beach

It was the first whale stranding along the New Jersey coast in over ten weeks. It’s the eighth humpback whale stranding on the Jersey Shore this year, according to NOAA.

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