Jersey shore

Boat Strikes Surfacing Whale at the Jersey Shore

The whale was apparently not hurt by the boat strike but did get tangled in fishing line

Humpback whale
RC Staab

There was a startling and highly unusual collision on the Jersey Shore Friday afternoon -- a boat striking a surfacing whale.

A cabin cruiser was going down the Navesink River at the Highlands Bridge and ran right over a surfacing humpback whale, according to eyewitnesses on the scene.

There were gasps from onlookers who had gathered for hours to watch the whale swimming under and near the bridge.

A humpback whale seen off the Jersey Shore on May 29, 2020. (RC Staab)

A few moments after the strike, the whale did surface again, but had no apparent injury, according to the Marine Mammal Stranding Center in Brigantine. (Larger ship strikes are a leading cause of death for whales.)

But as Highlands and state police responded, the Stranding Center says the whale’s head was entangled in fishing line as it finally returned to Sandy Hook Bay. A rescue operation will now have to be mounted.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly referred to the whale being accompanied by a calf. The Marine Mammal Stranding Center says the whale did not have a calf with it.

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