Humpback Whale Seen Feet From Spring Lake Shoreline
Warmer weather and water temps kept the whales around longer than normal, experts say.
Originally posted on the Rumson-Fair Haven, NJ Patch
By CARLY BALDWIN (Patch Staff)
December 29, 2015
Spring Lake, NJ - This humpback whale was seen remarkably close to shore Monday morning, breaching just off Spring Lake.
“He was feeding on bunker,” photographer Mary Dunham told Patch. “He breached 4 to 5 times, and then headed into deeper waters. When it first breached, it was right off the tip of the jetty. But in the picture, he’s maybe 60-70 yards out.”
Several whale sightings have been reported close to land along the Jersey Shore this past November and December, and the unseasonably warm temperatures may have something to do with it.
“Water temps are in the low 50s, which is warmer than what it should be at this time of the year. The warmer water is keeping the bunker and schools of herring around, that’s for sure,” said Dunham, who’s been photographing wildlife along the Jersey Shore for the past eight years with her company, Shore Shot Images.
The warmer water temperature is definitely making the whales linger a bit longer off New Jersey before they swim south for the winter, said Bob Schoelkopf, founder and director of the Marine Mammal Stranding Center in Brigantine.
Humpback whales like this one load up on herring and bunker before they swim south to their winter mating grounds in the Caribbean, he said. Humpbacks are the ones most commonly seen off the Jersey Shore.
According to Dunham, early morning is always the best time to spot marine mammals off the Jersey Shore, such as seals, whales and dolphins.