New York holds the dubious lead of most fatal humpback whale strandings last year, and along with other deaths, the spike is alarming federal officials.
Last year's stranding of a humpback in Moriches was one of just four mostly mysterious deaths that NOAA Marine Fisheries is investigating off Long Island.
But New Jersey had several, and a total of 41 such deaths since the beginning of last year from Maine to North Carolina have led NOAA to declare a relatively rare Unusual Mortality Event.
No common disease has been found so far, though half of the whale experts have been able to examine have suffered ship and boat strikes.
Although the Atlantic population of nearly 11,000 humpbacks is no longer listed as endangered, they are still protected by federal law.