MIDDLETOWN — Marine biologists found two dolphins on a sandbar near a state marina and had to euthanize one of them because of its weakened state.

An adult common dolphin discovered Wednesday afternoon on the beach between the Naval Weapons Station Earle eastern beach and Leonardo State Marina beach was already dead. Its calf was spotted 150 feet away on a sandbar near the Naval Weapons Station Earle pier, according to the Marine Mammal Stranding Center.

Braving a gusty 40 mph wind and cold temperatures, a stranding team had to climb over a guard rail and scale down 15 feet of rocks to a marsh in order to reach the dolphin. The team was able to lift the calf onto a stretcher and carry it back to the pier.

Personnel from Naval Security Forces, the DEP, the National Oil Spill Response Research & Renewable Energy Test Facility (OHMSETT) and Earle Public Affairs joined the MMS team.

Adult dolphin on a beach near the Leonardo State Marina in Middletown
Adult dolphin on a beach near the Leonardo State Marina in Middletown (Mayor Tony Perry)

Euthanizing a young dolphin

A veterinarian examined the calf and determined it was in a very weakened condition and could not survive. The decision was made to humanely euthanize the animal to prevent any further suffering. It will be taken to the New Jersey Department of Agriculture's animal health diagnostic lab in Trenton for a necropsy.

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The team returned to the beach Thursday to complete the sampling and measuring of the adult dolphin. It will be buried on the beach.

Thirteen whales and seven dolphins have been stranded on New Jersey and New York beaches since December, which has created a political divide.

One side suspects the work related to wind projects is to blame and wants the Biden and Murphy administrations to implement a pause in work so it can be studied. On the other side are Gov. Phil Murphy and several environmental groups who say that no connection to the wind development exists.

U.S. Reps. Jeff Van Drew, R-N.J. 2nd District, and Chris Smith, R- N.J. 4th District, hosted a hearing Thursday in Wildwood about offshore wind energy and its impact on marine life. Both Republicans have joined with several New Jersey mayors in calling for a moratorium on the wind energy projects.

7 dolphins stranded at the Jersey Shore
7 dolphins stranded at the Jersey Shore (Canva)

Another way to stop strandings

A group comprising the Animal Protection League of New Jersey, former New Jersey Sierra Club Director Jeff Tittel and former U.S. Sen. Robert Torricelli are trying to find middle ground.

"The rush to dismiss, or charge, based on political support for wind versus oil has been especially off-putting. In some, not all, cases, land conservation groups in New Jersey with no brief or experience in marine mammals pronounce in the press on what is, or is not, causing the mortality," they wrote in a letter to U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J.

They want Booker to ask the Coast Guard to monitor shipping lanes and the speed of vessels. Necropsys have determined most of the whales and dolphins and whales were struck by vessels.

"The sole and pressing matter is not about energy preferences, nor is it about opining; it is about a critically endangered whale, and other whales, so evidently in trouble off our state’s shores."

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