New Jersey saw 54 dolphin strandings in 2023, according to data from the Marine Mammal Stranding Center in Brigantine. This is the highest number of strandings in 20 years, with the exception of an unusual event in 2013, the center said. The annual average number of dolphin stranding fatalities is 35.
Almost 15% of the fatalities were accounted for in a mass stranding of eight dolphins on a beach in Sea Isle City in March. All of the dolphins in that event died or were euthanized.
An even higher stranding total for the state occurred in 2013, when 180 sea mammals died, but that year was later determined to be an “unusual mortality event” caused by an outbreak of morbillivirus. No such virus has been found in the 2023 strandings.
The 2023 strandings number rises to 66 when whales that washed up onto a beach are included. The center’s data was updated as of Dec. 18.
Opponents of the state’s offshore wind initiative have argued that preconstruction activity by wind farm developers is a major cause of the increase in sea mammal fatalities. Scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have maintained that there is no link between beached sea mammals and offshore wind activities.
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