BARNEGAT — In a twist on this year's numerous whale deaths, a minke keeps stranding itself in Barnegat Bay and then swimming back into deeper water.

The 22-foot whale was first spotted on Sunday stranded on a sandbar in shallow water on the northwest side of Conklin Island in Barnegat Bay.  The Marine Mammal Stranding Center's stranding team, with help from the State Police Marine Unit and Sea Tow, freed the whale and seemingly sent it into the open water of the channel.

The next morning the whale was stranded again this time across the bay southwest of Clam Island. The MMSC's stranding coordinator "walked" the whale three-quarters of a mile into deeper water. Once in deeper water, the whale was resting at the surface and lowered its tail to anchor itself in position.

Minke whale in Barnegat Bay
Minke whale in Barnegat Bay (Marine Mammal Stranding Center)

Stay away from the whale

The whale returned to the shallow water Tuesday around Clam Island and stranded itself again. However, it freed itself as the tide came in and swam into the middle of the bay. The U.S. Coast Guard helped monitor the minke.

The MMS said anyone spotting the whale should stay 300 feet away and not touch it as the whale could be harmed.

Minke whales are not endangered or threatened but are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, according to NOAA Fisheries. They are common for the mid-Alantic and New England regions of the U.S. coast.

Fifteen whales have stranded themselves along the Jersey Shore in 2023. The last one was a pygmy sperm whale in Loveladies on LBI on August 29.

Map shows Conklin Island and Clam Island in Barnegat Bay
Map shows Conklin Island and Clam Island in Barnegat Bay (Canva)

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