🐬The spike in strandings by dolphins and whales started a year ago in Keansburg

🐬The state is not examining whether work on wind projects is a factor

🐬New Jersey is moving forward on wind projects


MIDDLETOWN — For the first time since mid-October, a dolphin was found washed up on a New Jersey beach.

Clean Ocean Action said the dolphin was found between beaches A and B in Sandy Hook Monday morning around 9:30 a.m. A person reported the discovery to the Marine Mammal Stranding Center which will investigate.

It is the 50th dolphin by the MMSC's count to wash up on a Jersey Shore beach in the past year. It was a year to the day when the yearlong spike in beached whales and dolphins began with an infant sperm found on a Keansburg beach.

Seventeen whales have been stranded on New Jersey beaches, the most recent on Oct. 1 in Barnegat Bay.

The MMSC on Tuesday morning did not respond to New Jersey 101.5's request for more information.

Marine Mammal Stranding Center count on stranded dolphins and porpoises since 2002
Marine Mammal Stranding Center count on stranded dolphins and porpoises since 2002 (MMSC)

A record number?

While the number of stranded dolphins made headlines throughout 2023 including one occasion when eight were found in one day on a Sea Isle City beach, it was not a record-breaking year, according to the MMSC's records.

On average, between 30 and 50 stranded each year between 2002 and 2022. An exception was in 2013 with 150 to 200 strandings, according to the MMSC's records.

NOAA Fisheries said cetacean morbillivirus infections were the reason for the spike in 2013. A subset of the stranded dolphins also appeared to show signs of active Brucella sp. which is bacterial infections in the joints, brain, or reproductive organs.

It was a record-breaking year for whale strandings in 2023 with between 10 and 15 whales found on New Jersey beaches. On average, five to 10 whale species were stranded between 2002 and 2022.

Marine Mammal Stranding Center count on stranded marine life since 2002
Marine Mammal Stranding Center count on stranded marine life since 2002 (MMSC)

Financial failure

Opponents of wind projects off the New Jersey coastline have blamed preparation work for confusing marine life causing them to swim into the path of ships and have asked for a pause in work to study the impact. Gov. Phil Murphy contends there is no scientific evidence and has refused to consider such a pause.

The waters off the coasts of New York and New Jersey are the busiest on the East Coast for maritime traffic.

Danish developer Orsted has canceled its two projects, Ocean Wind I and Ocean Wind II, blaming "supply chain challenges, project delays, and rising interest rates" in a statement.

Despite the setback, Murphy is continuing to move forward with wind energy and directed the Board of Public Utilities to pursue the state's fourth solicitation for wind projects in 2024.

Atlantic Shores is moving forward with its project off southern Ocean County to build 200 wind turbines nine to 20 miles off the coast. Long Beach Township, five Ocean County shore communities and the City of Brigantine have filed a lawsuit that alleges the state DEP has not been impartial in its review of the environmental impact of the project, according to the news website Downbeach.

NJ approved wind projects - New York Bight
NJ approved wind projects - New York Bight (NJ DEP)

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