🐬 Five dolphins have stranded this year

🐬 Slightly milder water temperatures may be contributing to the strandings

🐬 10 seal pups have been found on Jersey Shore beaches so far this year

NORTH WILDWOOD — The third dolphin in the past 10 days to strand themselves on a New Jersey beach was found Sunday.

The Marine Mammal Stranding Center reports the adult common dolphin was found at 16th Avenue Beach in North Wildwood. The male's body was moderately decomposed with light scavenging around the head.

It is the fifth stranded dolphin this year.

Marine Mammal Stranding Center Director Sheila Dean told New Jersey 101.5 that seagulls started to pick at the body and went for the eyes, which is common. It was so badly decomposed that only a field necropsy will be performed.

Dolphin found stranded in North Wildwood 2/26/24
Dolphin found stranded in North Wildwood 2/26/24 (Dorothy Prior via Save the Dolphins and Whales NJ)

Strandings are not unusual

Dean said that it's not unusual for dolphins to strand in the late winter and spring.  A contributing factor could be that the water also did not get as cold this winter, meaning that the dolphins did not feel the need to leave the Jersey Shore.

"The ocean temp for the Polar Bear Plunge in Seaside Heights has always been in the upper 30s in previous years. But this year was lower 40s," New Jersey 101.5 Chief Meteorologist Dan Zarrow said.

The mild water may also be a factor in an increase in seal pups on the beach. At least 10 so far have been taken been taken in by the MMSC this year.

The deaths may reignite the debate over the cause of the deaths and their possible connection to work on wind projects off the New Jersey shore. Proponents of the projects, including Gov. Phil Murphy and the state Department of Environmental Protection, say no evidence points to a connection.

Economic factors ended the Empire Wind 2 project, which was to be built off the coast of New Jersey in Long Island Sound. Developer Ørsted announced in October that they were canceling their Ocean Wind 1 and Ocean Wind 2 projects.

Work continues on the Atlantic Shores project 10 miles off the Jersey Shore.

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