A dead humpback whale weighing approximately 25 tons continued to baffle officials in New Jersey on Tuesday as they struggled to move its body and take DNA samples.
The whale, which stretches roughly 35 feet long, was found stuck on a sandbar just off the coast of Brigantine and Long Beach Island last week. On Tuesday, wildlife authorities were anxious to collect whatever information they could before the body decayed.
"When you have an animal like that coming in, and there's no apparent cause of injuries, we need to examine it," said Bob Schoelkopf from the Marine Mammal Stranding Center in Brigantine.
Authorities have not found any evidence suggesting the whale was killed by a ship, but they do think it died within the past week and is one of many that died along the East Coast in the past year. Several more whales were recently found in Delaware, Sea Isle City in New Jersey and Long Island, New York. The latter was euthanize in September after veterinarians discovered it was malnourished and had neurological abnormalities.
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"Whenever you have a large number dying off in a short period of time, there's concern," Schoelkopf said. "You have to wonder what's causing that."
The whale will remain in place until authorities can figure out how to move its massive body safely.