Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A Whale of a Tale

Photo credit: Ocean City Patch / Douglass Bergen

Yesterday, a dead 40 foot whale washed ashore in our hometown of Ocean City, just 6 blocks north of where we live!

I found out from a friend who happened to be working from home at the time.  She sent me these pictures and at first, I had no idea what I was looking at.  Then, I couldn't believe my eyes!

Photo credit: Megan Williamson (Jan 23rd, 2:00pm)
Photo credit: Megan Williamson (Jan 23rd, 2:00pm)

Crowds started forming on the beach within minutes of the first spotting.  And they were still there this morning when Nate and I went to pay our respects before work.  It was a very sad sight...

The whale is either of the minke or fin species and is already badly decomposing.  Officials were waiting until today to see if the waves would push the whale further onto the beach, making it easier to access.  And the tide did its work.

Photo credit: Nathan Torok (Jan 24th, 7:30am)

Photo credit: South Jersey News / Philly.com

When the tide recedes this afternoon (it's low at 2:18 p.m.), the Marine Mammal Stranding Center technicians should be able to get to the whale to determine what species it is, what caused its death, and how they will remove it from the beach.  I'll keep you posted...

By the way, we've been told that its a good thing it's not summer, as sharks would have followed the whale straight to "America's greatest family resort" for a chunk of blubber...  How's that for too close for comfort?

Update @5:00pm 1/24: The Marine Mammal Stranding Center in Brigantine identified the whale as 60-foot finback whale, the second largest animal ever to have wandered planet Earth. Only the blue whale is bigger.

Update @8:30am 1/25: Experts with the center spent the day yesterday taking tissue samples and performing a necropsy, the animal equivalent of an autopsy. They found multiple broken bones, suggesting the leviathan was struck by a ship, center Director Bob Schoelkopf said. “Animals are feeding, and they come up to take a breath, and they get hit,” Schoelkopf said. Before the city could do anything with the decomposing whale, employees first had to build sand ramps over jetties and outfall pipes north of Seventh Street to ferry the whale chunks to a burial site on the beach near the Ocean City-Longport Bridge. Burying whales is a tradition born from practicality in southern New Jersey. There is simply no easy way to get rid of 50 tons of rotting, disgusting blubber and bone.


  1. I heard about this! I'm from just north of where you live and that has been all over the local news! Hope everything works out! On a side note, I really like your blog! Now following!

  2. It's chaos on the boardwalk right now. You would think Justin Bieber was up there, but nope just the disposal of the poor little fella. Couldn't really see anything because of the amount of people and the police blocking areas off, but word on the street is that they cut him up..yikes! It's definitely the talk of the town!!
    PS-does anyone know it's 60 degrees outside!!!

  3. Poor guy, hopefully he lived to be a ripe old age...