🐬 Three dolphins struggled and then died in shallow waters along the NJ coast

🐬 It comes as ten whales have washed up dead in the NY/NJ region since December

🐬 Activists at a rally Sunday connected the dolphin and whale deaths to offshore wind projects

MIDDLETOWN — Three dolphins have died struggling in the shallows at a Monmouth County beach, joining a growing list of washed-up ocean mammals that have captured the attention of activists and lawmakers alike.

The Atlantic white-sided dolphins, all male, were discovered at the Sandy Hook barrier on Saturday morning.

Video of the mammals captured by photographer Mathew Renk shows them struggling in the shallow bay waters. The animals were alive when first spotted around 11 a.m. but had died by the time members from the Marine Mammal Stranding Center in Brigantine arrived at the scene.

MMSC Executive Director Sheilah Dean told NJ.com that the dolphins were put into a truck and transported to the NJ Animal Health Diagnostic Laboratory in Ewing for necropsies. A spokesperson for the center was not available Sunday when contacted by New Jersey 101.5.

Dean also told the outlet that dolphin strandings are not out of the ordinary, even in winter, but it is unusual for three of them to end up lost together.

The dolphin deaths have caught the attention of activists that have raised concerns about recent whale deaths, including attendees of a Save the Whales Rally at Point Pleasant Beach boardwalk on Sunday afternoon.

Speaking to a large group, Point Pleasant Beach Mayor Paul Kanitra connected the stranded dolphins to the whale deaths. Kanitra is one of several elected officials who have called for a stoppage to offshore wind projects, believing the work is responsible for disrupting marine life.

Mayor Paul Kanitra/Facebook
Mayor Paul Kanitra/Facebook

"Just yesterday, three dolphins were stranded and died in Sandy Hook," Kanitra said. "Apparently, the powers that be assume we're all idiots. And their silence has been deafening. The only times we hear anything is when they try to push the cause of all of this off on 'boat strikes.'"

But others, including Marine Mammal Stranding Center experts, have repeatedly called on people to wait for official results.

"To assign blame before the scientific data is analyzed and interpreted would be premature, and could dilute our impact on championing changes on behalf of these animals in the future," the MMSC said in a statement on social media.

Rick Rickman is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at richard.rickman@townsquaremedia.com

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