- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Eight dolphins stranded themselves on a beach in Sea Isle City, New Jersey, Tuesday, two of which died and six of which had to be euthanized to prevent further suffering.

The pod was discovered at 11 a.m. local time, and aid soon arrived to try and help rescue the stranded cetaceans. A local resident said the eight swam straight toward the beach as part of a larger group of 50 or so dolphins.

A pair were pronounced dead on the scene. Rescuers used towels, hoses, buckets and other methods to try to comfort the other six for recuperation.

Despite their efforts, however, the condition of the remaining six dolphins worsened. Returning them to the ocean, it was determined, would not have helped them survive.

“The remaining six dolphins were assessed by our veterinarian, and their conditions were rapidly deteriorating. The decision was made to humanely euthanize the dolphins to prevent further suffering, as returning them to the ocean would have only prolonged their inevitable death,” the New Jersey nonprofit Marine Mammal Stranding Center said in a Facebook post.

The cause of the stranding has not yet been determined, nor is Tuesday’s incident the only recent instance of marine life washing ashore in New Jersey. 

At least six other dolphins have been stranded recently, as have whales, including six humpbacks thus far in 2023, according to the National Marine Fisheries Service. Tuesday’s stranding was the largest such incident in New Jersey this year.

Experts have placed blame on ships hitting the whales, as well as fishing lines and other equipment, as the proximate cause of the surge in cetacean deaths. Others, however, blame sonar mapping on the seafloor that partly creates wind energy infrastructure.

Five mid-Atlantic House Republicans have called for a federal moratorium on offshore wind projects until their possible effect on marine wildlife is fully determined.

The representatives are Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey, Andy Harris of Maryland, Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, Anthony D’Esposito of New York and Chris Smith of New Jersey.

Sea Isle City resident Eileen Cameron agrees with their line of thinking, saying the numbers of reported boating accidents and whale and dolphin deaths do not add up.

“I swear it’s the sonar. It’s definitely throwing them off. They keep saying it’s vessel strikes. But these are no boating accidents,” Ms. Cameron told local news site OCNJ Daily.

No connection between the sonar mapping for offshore wind and cetacean deaths has been scientifically proved thus far.

• Brad Matthews can be reached at bmatthews@washingtontimes.com.

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