Police officers patrolling a New Jersey beach were baffled when they spotted a massive skull that washed up on the shore early this week.

The skull was found on the sand at the Barnegat Peninsula in Berkeley Township on Sunday. The remains had a rounded base and two long, pointed protrusions. The images of the sea creature's remains were shared on Island Beach State Park's Facebook page.

"Our State Park Police found this skull yesterday," authorities wrote in the social media post. The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection also shared the pictures on Twitter.

Initially, officials were unable to identify the origin of the mysterious skull. It was later revealed that the skull and the lower jaw bone belonged to a minke whale. Bob Schoelkopf, the director of the Marine Mammal Stranding Center, said the sea creature was nearly 11 feet long. 

"We think this is the one we had last year in Island Bech State Park," Schoelkopf said, according to NJ.com. "It was buried under the beach and likely came up again."

Minke whales are common in the Atlantic Ocean off the east coast of the U.S. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, since 2017, more than 100 of these creatures have been found stranded on beaches. In 2020, there were 24 minke whale strandings along the east coast from Maine to South Carolina, including four in New Jersey.

There have been several incidents in the past when mysterious sea creatures, or even their remains, have washed up on the shore. 

In April, the skull of a sea creature with a huge tongue and razor-sharp teeth washed up on a beach in England. The remains were spotted by a woman who was walking on Shelly Beach in Exmouth. The woman, identified as  Angela Mynard, shared the images to Facebook group Exmouth Community U.K., requesting people to help her identify the creature.

"Can anyone tell me what type of fish this is (was!)? It has a big tongue and more teeth further back in its head. The thought of this rubbing up against my leg while swimming...." she wrote. Social media users debated on the identity of the creature, with many suggesting that it could either be a stone fish or monkfish. However, the identity of the creature was not confirmed.

beach Representational image Photo: AFPTV / Jonathan KLEIN