Rare Beaked Whale Washes Up on Island Beach

The Smithsonian Institution will be retrieving the head of the rare beaked whale that washed up on Island Beach State Park around Jan. 4. Robert Schoelkopf, director of the Marine Mammal Stranding Center in Brigantine, said scientists from the Smithsonian will be traveling to the stranding center and will add the skull to their collection.

On Jan. 4, staff from the stranding center responded to the call to retrieve the rare sea mammal from the beach and were able to identify it as a Blainesville’s beaked whale. This is only the second time in more than four decades that the stranding center has come across one of these unique and rare whales , which weigh close to 800 pounds. The 15-foot male whale that washed up was already decomposing when the staff found it. There was no obvious cause of death.

Blainesville’s beaked whales are very rare, said Schoelkopf. “This type of whale, with a dolphin-like beak, is known to dive to great depths in search of food, usually squid. They spend most of their lives at extreme depths, and because of this, they are hard to observe.”

In 1989, staff from the MMSC responded to a deceased Blainesville’s beaked whale in Morganville, Monmouth County. The center kept that skull, which is in its museum collection.

Staff also responded to a deceased dolphin in Sandy Hook on Friday, Jan.6. Although she was initially thought to be pregnant, an exam revealed she was not. The cause of death is not known and the necropsy, so far, has been inconclusive, although the animal did have internal parasites.

Schoelkopf said so far this winter they have not had any reports of stranded seals, although beached seals are the most common call to the center during the winter.

The Marine Mammal Stranding Center is New Jersey’s only facility dedicated to the rescue of sick and injured marine mammals and sea turtles, and relies on donations for its rescues and rehabilitations. Those who would like to help the MMSC feed and provide care and medicine to its rescues can visit its website, mmsc.org, to become a member, adopt a seal, or to give a donation.

– Reposted from The Sandpaper