Positively New Jersey: A ‘deep dive’ into New Jersey’s growing whale population
The number of humpback whales in New Jersey waters has been growing over the past two decades. The rise is attributed to cleaner water and the presence of more baitfish for them to feed on.
But not much has been known about the population itself. Where are the whales coming from? How many are there? Are they young or old?
A new study led by a Rutgers University scientist has begun to unravel those mysteries. The study of 101 whales between 2011 and 2018 found New Jersey’s local whales are mostly juveniles who belong to populations whose primary feeding grounds are Maine and Canada. They are staying here longer, growing in number, and, in some cases, returning year after year.
On today's episode of Brian's Positively New Jersey, Brian heads out to sea with the lead author of the study, Danielle Brown, a Rutgers Ph.D. candidate and lead researcher for Gotham Whale, a nonprofit that studies whales in New Jersey and New York waters.
Brown is also a naturalist on Jersey Shore Whale Watch, which has been leading trips out of Belmar since 2016. On today's trip, Brown leads whale watchers to the location of two whales - one included in the study, and one new whale who is less than cooperative with her attempt to add it to the list of identified whales.