Straying sea mammals in New Jersey – 08/29/2006

  • November 25, 2013 at 1:18 am #1266

    from rocky:

    Scientists puzzled by straying mammals
    August 28, 2006
    Associated Press
    BRIGANTINE, N.J. ” Hooded seals, bottlenose whales and a manatee have
    been spotted in the waters of the northeastern U.S., leaving marine
    biologists puzzled as to why they have strayed from their natural

    The presence along the Jersey Shore of mammals who normally swim in much
    warmer or colder waters took a troubling turn recently with the
    discovery of three of the seals on New Jersey beaches. All were
    suffering from starvation or exposure.

    Those seals and two others found in North Carolina and Virginia —
    all of them pups about six months old — are being cared for at the
    Marine Mammal Stranding Center. The center has never had to rescue any
    in the summer months before, according to founding director Bob

    The sudden influx has Schoelkopf and others searching for clues.
    “We’ve never had this rate of strandings in the summer months, and we
    really have no definitive idea why it’s happening,” Schoelkopf told The
    Philadelphia Inquirer. “And why these animals are turning up in all
    these strange places. It’s truly a mystery.”

    The bottlenose whales, which normally are found in the North Atlantic,
    have also been sighted along the East Coast, Schoelkopf said. And a
    manatee, whose habitat is chiefly the warmer waters off Florida, made
    its way up the Hudson River through New York City this month and was
    last spotted off Cape Cod.

    Studies conducted by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute in
    Massachusetts and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the
    University of California at San Diego suggest the strange migrations
    could be attributed to underwater noise created by long-range sonar testing conducted by the Navy and to expanded global shipping.

    Whales, dolphins and other marine mammals use sound signals to mate and
    communicate with each other and may be misreading the man-made sounds.
    “We’re very concerned about this because we think the research is clear
    that the sonar testing can have an adverse impact on the marine
    environment,” said Michelle Duval, a senior scientist with Environmental
    Defense, a Washington-based nonprofit advocacy group.
    The group has opposed the establishment of a 500-square-mile sonar range
    in the Atlantic Ocean off the North Carolina coast.
    Navy officials said the studies don’t prove any long-term effects of
    sonar on marine mammals.

    At the Brigantine facility, one of only a half-dozen federally licensed
    centers on the East Coast that aid stranded mammals, resources are being
    strained as workers dip into reserve supplies of fish to feed the seals.
    If the seals survive, they will be taken to Maine and released into the
    North Atlantic.

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