Looking at Wash-ups and Strange Catches

For many years I have been investigating strange wash- ups and catches. These are the fishes and other marine life that wash up on our beaches, or are caught in the nets of commercial fisherman. Every year I get calls from lifeguards and fisherman that find something strange. As a fisheries observer I collect this data and send it to appropriate researchers. Last year not too much was going on the wash up front. A large Sand Tiger Shark washed up in LBI. I got calls for the usual strange carcasses of Atlantic Sturgeon. A juvenile Great White washed up on a Long Island beach just across from, and in sight of, Sandy Hook. The strangest shark wash-up I investigated was a young Blue Shark that washed up showing no signs of damage at Monmouth Beach. Mauve jellyfish in South Jersey and dead Cow Nose Rays in Allenhurst brought some calls. On the commercial front Conger eels, and lots of large sharks in nets were brought to my attention. By watching the strange things that appear on beaches and in nets we can get an idea of what is going on in the ocean. So far this year the wash-ups have not brought good news. Whales, dolphins, and seals predominate the reports. Let’s hope this trend stops soon. For me the most interesting wash-ups came from Sea Bright. In the span of a week I found coconuts, pineapples, exotic nuts and seeds, exotic driftwood, a large dead fresh water carp, and a long-neck tropical fresh water turtle. This occurs when little pools of water break off from the Gulf Stream and move to shore. It lets us get a glimpse of tropical south.

Just an addition to this post. I was on the beach today from Monmouth Beach to Sandy Hook before the storm and found again, lots of tropical debris. Coconuts and tropical driftwoods are abundant. Any crafters wanting some interesting driftwood should get out there today before the storm washes it all away.

Whale Investigation

Patrolling my stretch of the beach today. No sign of marine mammal wash-ups or stranding’s. Lots of activity by what looks like beach replenishment survey ships.

Interesting Historical Catch

In July of 1931, Wm. G. Presley, of the A.C. fishery of Galilee, NJ had a nasty surprise in his fishing pound net. A large Bull Shark was tangled in his net. After an hour fight he was able to kill the shark and drag it to shore. He described it a large bull shark, with a mouth big enough to swallow a person. It weighted in at 500 Lbs. The shark was sent to the Fulton Street Market for sale.

Wash Ups Give us a Window to the Deep

As I write something strange is going on off the NJ coast. Over 10 Humpback Whales have washed up dead in our area. Yesterday three dolphins beached themselves and died. Many locals think it has to do with the new wind farms under construction. Gov. Murphy and his party are defending them. I watched an interview the other day on TV with a smug NOAA reprehensive saying in a dismissive tone that NOAA follows the science. Well the science tells us something is wrong. And it is time we get to the bottom of it..

These animals are dying in numbers larger than expected. We look to NOAA for answers not smug political posturing. But having been a fisheries observer for many years, we find NOAA often taking the side of politics instead of following the science. We the people of New Jersey are expecting them to do their job and find out what is going on.. Why not stop the wind construction until a study can be done? Then we can follow the science.

The body of a humpack whale lies on a beach in Brigantine N.J., after it washed ashore on Friday, Jan. 13, 2023. It was the seventh dead whale to wash ashore in New Jersey and New York in little over a month, prompting calls for a temporary halt in offshore wind farm preparation on the ocean floor from lawmakers and environmental groups who suspect the work might have something to do with the deaths. (AP Photo/Wayne Parry)

A Real Sea Serpent

It is pretty easy to see how an oarfish can be mistaken for sea serpent. They get pretty big and have been recorded in the 30′ range. It is pretty safe to bet there are even bigger ones out there. They surely are the culprit in many historical sea serpent sightings. The problem with them being a New Jersey serpent is that they are rarely seen inshore except when they are sick or before an earthquake.

The Navesink Serpent

For years people have seen a strange serpent-like creature in the Navesink River. The description tells of a large creature with a “bulldog like” head. What is most surprising about the description is that this same reference to the head of a bulldog has been mentioned in other cases of strange sightings along the NJ shore. I have long thought many of the descriptions fit closest to an oarfish, but I have not been able to place one close to the shore in NJ as of yet. The general description of the Navesink Serpent is:

  • Approximately 50’ in length.
  • Serpent shaped.
  • Swam with serpent-like undulations
  • Bulldog shaped head.
  • Two horns on head.
  • Silver dollar sized eyes.
  • Cat-like bristles on lip.
  • Sword shaped tapered tail.
  • Large flattened nostrils.