Whale of a Shrewsbury River Sighting

UPDATE: Since the initial Friday morning release from the NJ State Police Marine Services Bureau, the type of whale cited was edited by police from their original “blue” classification to humpback. In addition, it was reported that the whale had been seen swimming toward Sandy Hook after having been hit at a low speed near Highlands by a boat.

It was also reportedly entangled in a net from which those certified in handling such entanglements of a whale from Atlantic Large Whale Disentanglement Network (see below) are working out a plan to free it.

Today, Saturday, as of 2 p.m., several people had reported on social media seeing a whale swimming in the ocean off Sea Bright Public Beach (near Anchorage). Dolphins were cited nearby. Authorities reiterate that boaters should be on the alert and avoid any close proximity to the entangled whale so that it may feed, swim and eventually become disentangled from the net without endangerment.

From the Marine Mammal Stranding Center … (about 3:30 p.m.)

Yesterday a 30-foot humpback whale was spotted in the Shrewsbury River in Monmouth County near the Highlands bridge. The Marine Mammal Stranding Center spent the day monitoring the whale from aboard a New Jersey State Police vessel.

Throughout the day the whale displayed normal behavior. As the whale swam under the bridge back out towards the bay, an aerial photo of the whale was taken that upon later review revealed fishing gear on the rostrum of the whale which was not visible when observed from the water. The Center for Coastal Studies in Cape Cod, a member of the Atlantic Large Whale Disentanglement Network, was contacted by the MMSC.

They are the only agency federally-permitted to perform large whale disentanglements. These highly specialized teams receive intensive training on performing these highly dangerous operations.

Planning the logistics of disentangling a large whale is quite complicated due to the high risk factors to both the rescuers and the whale. Unfortunately one cannot simply remove netting from a large free-swimming whale right away after being spotted, so please be patient as our colleagues at CCS work on a plan.

We are asking the public to please report any whale sightings to the MMSC (609) 266-0538. Special thanks to NOAA, NJ Fish and Wildlife Marine Division, NJ State Police, US Coast Guard and Monmouth County Sheriff Marine Unit for their collaboration today, and to our volunteers Danielle Brown, Bill Schultz, Lorraine MCartney and Debbie DiGianno for helping to monitor the whale. Signed- MMSC STAFF 

The original post from Friday …

Call it a whale of a sighting. NJ State Police Marine Services Bureau authorities reported this morning a healthy blue whale feeding and swimming in the Shrewsbury River.

Asking that people and boaters resist the temptation to get close to the mammal, police said they are monitoring the situation to ensure that its health is not negatively impacted nor is it driven out of its feeding spot.

NJ State Police issued the following statement:

Earlier today, Troopers from the Marine Services Bureau responded to the Route 36 bridge over the Shrewsbury River for the report of a blue whale.

Marine vessels arrived in the area at approximately 9:24 a.m. to monitor the mammal. Shortly after their arrival, an additional NJSP vessel arrived with a member of the Marine Mammal Stranding Center, which is located in Brigantine, N.J., to assess the whale’s condition. 

Preliminarily, the whale appears to be healthy and feeding. We understand it may be tempting to get close for a better look or picture, but at this time, we are advising boaters to avoid the area. 

Additional boat traffic may scare the whale and prevent it from leaving the river and/or negatively impact its health. 

We will continue to monitor the situation

— Photo/NJ State Police screenshot

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John Caroli
BCS Wealth Management