Two humpback whales that were seen floating dead off the coasts of New York and New Jersey earlier this week had evidence of blunt force trauma, officials said.
One was a 47ft male floating off eastern Long Island, and the other was a 28ft female in Raritan Bay between New York and New Jersey. Although the two whales were first spotted on Wednesday, their “different levels of decomposition” indicate their deaths were unrelated, the The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said in a Facebook post Friday.
NOAA also announced the presumed cause of death for each whale. The man is believed to have died of “blunt force trauma”, while the woman is believed to have been killed by “blunt and sharp trauma consistent with a collision with a ship”.
The male was already “poorly decomposed” when the responders brought him back to earth. The female, however, was less decomposed and authorities found the animal had suffered bruises, lacerations, multiple fractures and a severed fin.
Humpback whale deaths have been increasing since January 2016, CNN reported.
However, 40% of the dead whales appeared to have been injured by “human interaction”, becoming entangled in fishing gear or struck by vessels. The rest of the whale carcasses were too decomposed to confirm a cause of death, NOAA said.