Endangered whale, 1 of only 400 left in world, found dead off N.J. coast

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North Atlantic right whale (NOAA/)

An endangered species of whale, one of only 400 left in the world, was found dead Thursday morning off the coast of Long Branch, officials said.

The whale was spotted floating in the ocean in the Elberon section of the city and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) was able to confirm that it was a North Atlantic Right Whale after photos were sent to the organization.

New Jersey’s Marine Mammal Stranding Center was working Thursday with NOAA to find a spot where a necropsy can be performed to find out how the mammal died, authorities said.

The discovery was the first confirmed right whale death in U.S. waters this year, NOAA said.

Since 2017, 31 North Atlantic right whales have been found dead in U.S. and Canadian waters and of the 400 that are remaining, only 95 are breeding females, officials said.

Entanglement in fishing gear and vessel strikes are among the leading causes of North Atlantic right whale deaths, NOAA said.

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Chris Sheldon may be reached at csheldon@njadvancemedia.com.