Published: Sunday, July 29, 2012, 5:05 PM Updated: Monday, July 30, 2012, 6:19 AM
By James Queally/The Star-Ledger
After nearly four hours and several attempts to move the whale out of shallow waters, members of New Jersey's Marine Mammal Stranding Center managed to nudge the animal back out to sea around 2 p.m., said agency director Bob Schoelkopf.
The 20-foot long whale was first spotted near South Amboy around 10 a.m., according to Schoelkpf, who said it was unclear why the animal floated in close to shore. While whales and other sea mammals tend to move toward shore if they are injured or sick, but Scoelkopf said the animal did appear to be harmed in any way.
Rescue workers with the Stranding Center, Perth Amboy Fire Department and U.S. Coast Guard managed to lead the whale out to deeper waters after several attempts to "re-float" it, Schoelkopf said.
“That’s about a ton, ton and a half of animal," he said. "So it’s not something you could just push back into the shallows.”
Officials will monitor the whale until it gets dark out to ensure that it does not return to the shallows. Schoelkopf said whales rarely approach the shore in New Jersey, where the animals more commonly collide with freighters. Last month, another Minke Whale collided with a cargo ship when it was entering Port Elizabeth, killing the animal almost instantly.
“For a live Minke to come ashore is quite unusual," he said.