Scott Doyle with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration told The Star-Ledger of Newark this is the first time he can remember a whale being shot in his 25 years on the job.
The 10-foot male short-finned pilot whale was found on a beach in Allenhurst on Sept. 24. It weighed more than 700 pounds.
Marine Mammal Stranding Center director Bob Schoelkopf tells the newspaper the gunshot wound caused an infection that prevented the whale from eating.
Schoelkopf says the whale probably traveled far before it became weak and washed ashore. A bullet recovered from its jaw has been sent it to a lab for testing.