Monday, July 31, 2006

Whales and Seals Washing Up On Shores of New Jersey: Military Maneuvers Involving High-Frequency Sonar Deep In the Ocean the Cause?

It’s been long known that sonar exercises will disrupt and kill whales and other marine life. This story kind of glosses over it, but does mention it as the likely cause.


Whales, Seals Washing Up On Jersey Shores

BRIGANTINE, N.J. - There have been some strange sights at the Jersey Shore this week. Rescuers saved two whales that washed up on the beach and a seal was also stranded. The activity has been keeping the Marine Mammal Stranding Center in Brigantine very busy.

"It was the biggest thing I ever saw come out of the ocean," said Bob Beckett.

An amateur video on Wednesday afternoon captured a sight many people are still talking about. A whale and her calf were stranded in the surf at Sea Isle City were finally freed, thanks to the help of dozens of beachgoers.

"It was such an amazing experience. I can't even describe it," Beckett said.

"We had two northern bottle-nosed whales, which is the first time ever we have recorded bottle-nosed whales in New Jersey waters. Even more amazing, it was a mother and calf," said Bob Schoelkopf, of the Marine Mammal Stranding Center.

Rescuers from the Marine Mammal Stranding Center in Brigantine responded to the Sea Isle City whale washup and also to Ocean City where a short-fin pilot whale showed up on the shore. The huge animal was in such poor condition, it had to be euthanized. Both types of whales are normally found at least 100 miles off shore. Experts said possible military maneuvers involving high-frequency sonar deep in the ocean could have something to do with the creatures coming to the New Jersey shore.

"This really messes up the hearing of the animal and they really have no clue where they're going," Schoelkopf said.

The center is also caring for a hooded seal, which became stranded with severe sunburn on Long Beach Island last weekend. In fact, other hooded seals have been appearing on beaches up and down the east coast, but experts said they belong in much colder waters.

"They're Arctic by nature and shouldn't be down here, but we have no clue why they are," Schoelkopf said.

A hooded seal was found Friday in North Carolina and was sent to the stranding center.

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