Dead fin whale seen off New Jersey coast


© Courtesy of Bill Lovgren
A dead Finwhale seen here floating on Wednesday about 18 miles from the Manasquan Inlet.

A pair of Point Pleasant Beach commercial fishermen working about 18 miles east of the Manasquan Inlet spotted a dead 40-foot whale floating on the surface.

"I saw it on the horizon. We were making a tow at the time for flounders," said Capt. Dennis Lovgren of the 78-foot dragger Kailey Ann. "It was very white in color but there wasn't much deterioration to the body."

Bob Schoelkopf, executive director of the Marine Mammals Stranding Center in Brigantine, identified the whale through photos as a fin whale, which is an endangered species.

No determination of the cause the whale's death has been made, but Schoelkopf said most likely it was killed by a ship strike.

The whale was reported to Coast Guard Station Manasquan, which issued a broadcast to mariners on VHF Channel 16 to alert them of the potential danger of collision with the 40-foot carcass.

Lovgren spotted the whale between 2 and 3 p.m. Wednesday and called over Capt. Tom Anderson of the commercial boat Amber Waves.

Both fishermen were in the same vicinity in the Mud Hole, a fishing ground off the coast here, where the whale was floating belly up.

"I went around it and didn't see any signs that it had been hit. I've been fishing since 1980 and this is the first dead whale I've seen in that time," said Anderson. "It's anybody's guess what killed it unless somebody does an autopsy."

Anderson said the whale had attracted the attention of large shark, which was scavenging on the body.