Dolphins4Dolphins in the upper Shrewsbury in late June.

Federal marine experts say they have an answer to slippery question: How may dolphins are there in the Navesink and Shrewsbury rivers?

Answer: Twelve, at least 10 of which have spent most of the past three-plus month in the inland waters, much to the consternation of those who think they need to be in their more customary migration south via the Atlantic Ocean.

According to Teri Frady, spokeswoman for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Atlantic bottlenose are

mainly in two groups, but there is mixing between the two. They are feeding both in the vicinity of the Oceanic Bridge and back in the Shrewsbury.

Experts from NOAA and other agencies and organizations interested in marine life have been preparing for an evacuation, if necessary of the mammals before we get deeper into cold weather and their exit to Sandy Hook Bay becomes blocked by ice.

Options include luring the dolphins out or driving them out, both using acoustics.

In July, NOAA established that there were 16 dolphins, then all feeding in the Navesink. Since then, at least two have died, leaving two unaccounted for.

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