Whale Graffiti: Dead Leviathan on NJ Beach Branded by Fraternity?

Monday, 05 May 2014 09:03 AM

By Michael Mullins

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A whale with graffiti scrolled on it was discovered on a New Jersey beach below Atlantic City’s Central Pier on Thursday.

The dead Minke whale, which was roughly 12 to 15 feet in length, appeared to have scrolled on it purple Greek letters that spelled out "Tau Epsilon Phi," a fraternity that has chapters at several area schools, followed by what looked like "94," written on it, The Associated Press reported.


The cause of death has yet to be determined, however a state pathologist has taken samples to find out what the animal died from, Robert Schoelkopf, director of the Marine Mammal Stranding Center, told The Press of Atlantic City. There were reportedly no signs of trauma on the whale.

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According to Schoelkopf, beached whales are a common occurrence along this stretch of beach.

"We had a 57-foot fin whale wash up in Jersey City just a few weeks ago," Schoelkopf told The Press of Atlantic City.

In addition to the graffiti whale, about six blocks away a dead common dolphin was found washed along another stretch of the Jersey shore.

Both the dolphin, which weighed less than 200 pounds and was about 5 feet in length, and the Minke whale, will reportedly be buried underneath the sand near the boardwalk.

The decision to bury the whale and dolphin so close to the boardwalk reportedly angered some local business owners who feared that over time an odor might emerge from the rotting carcasses.

In 2013, more than 1,000 migratory bottlenose dolphins died along the U.S. Eastern Seaboard from a measles-like virus known as morbillivirus.

In the late-1980s, scientists estimated that the morbillivirus wiped out 50 percent of the coastal migratory dolphins, Reuters reported. As a result the bottlenose dolphin was designated as "depleted" under the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act, a status it retains today.

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