Alert – Look Out for Juvenile Humpback Whales Near Shore
Young humpback whales are using the Jersey Shore as their seasonal feeding ground. These small whales, between 25 and 35 feet long, can be found close to shore from April through December. They are most likely to be found from Long Beach Island to Sandy Hook, with increasing likelihood moving north. Due to their small size, slow movements, and dark color, they can be difficult to see when at the surface. This puts them at risk from being hit by vessels that do not know they are there. When traveling close to shore in these areas, it is best to go slow to avoid hitting any surfacing whales. Collisions with whales are less likely when travelling at 12.5 knots or less (Currie et al. 2017). If a whale is spotted, keep the vessel at least 100 yards away. Allow extra distance if whales are lunge feeding or breaching.
These behaviors are unpredictable and can happen anywhere at any time. Healthy whale sightings and photos can be reported to www.gothamwhale.org. Report any injured, entangled, or deceased whales to the NJ Marine Mammal Stranding Center at 609-266-0538.
Credit: Danielle Brown, Gotham Whale/Rutgers University