SEASIDE PARK, NJ – A huge and mysterious skull has washed ashore at Island Beach State Park and it had state law enforcement and park officials baffled. The skull washed up at parking area A2 near the beach access path and park rangers had no idea what it was.
At first, it looked like a dolphin skull, but it was much larger than a dolphin, leading some to believe perhaps it was the skull of a prehistoric creature because of its sheer size. If you’ve ever been to Island Beach State Park, you know that pretty much anything and everything washes ashore here at some point. In the past, parts of piers, docks, boats, stray buoys, and even amusement park rides have landed on the beach at Island Beach, but this one had everyone stumped.
The huge skull measured nearly three feet in height and two feet in width and appeared that it could have been some kind of prehistoric bird or other creature that roamed the earth or lurked in the ocean, so the New Jersey State Park Police investigated.
As the investigation went on, the Facebook scientific expert community began to chime in with speculations and theories about the skull. Perhaps it was a Pterodactyl, the large prehistoric flying bird that populated the earth some 200 million years ago. After all, it had a large beak-like protrusion.
Yet others thought perhaps it was a tooth of some large prehistoric sea creature. Others joked, maybe it was the bone of whatever former Governor Chris Christie ate during his trip to the beach after closing it to the public several years ago.
In the end, officials deferred to the experts who determined it was the upper skull and lower jaw of a minke whale. Minke whales can live for up to 50 years and can grow as long as 35 feet in length. They are fast-swimming whales that can reach speeds of up to 35 miles per hour. Minke whales have survived man’s past overhunting of the global whale population because many whale hunters felt they were too much work for too small of a creature. Their speed and small size kept them off the radar of the 19th-century whale hunters, but in the 1970s, after the overhunting of larger whales, the minke whale became more desirable until the moratorium on whale hunting began in 1986.
Several countries have resumed the hunting of the minke whale, including Japan, Norway, North and South Korea and Iceland.