Boaters continue to navigate the Shrewsbury River without regard to the presence of a pod of stray dolphins in the waterway, people who’ve been observing the mammals say.
“You get these knuckleheads zooming through here,” says Sea Bright resident Andrew Mencinsky, whose home backs up on the river.
During a mid-afternoon visit today, redbankgreen saw three boats pass the pod about a quarter-mile north of McLoone’s Rum Runner restaurant. One idled to a near-stop on the Sea Bright side of the channel, but two others ran right through the area where the dolphins had been just seconds earlier. One was moving at a moderate speed, and another at high speed.
No law enforcement vessels were present at the time.
The danger is compounded, says Mencinsky, when there are two or more boats in the vicinity moving in opposite directions. “The dolphins get confused,” he says. Mencinsky is executive director of the Surfers’ Environmental Alliance.
According to various reports, boaters face fines of either $10,000 or $25,000 if they’re found to have harrased the dolphins by getting too close to them.
The Asbury Park Press is reporting that a team of marine conservationists and law enforcers plans to use “some electronics and what-not” next week to try to encourage the dolphins to head back out to sea. The animals are believed to have become disoriented or frightened about proceeding far enough north to enable them to reach Sandy Hook Bay and the Atlantic Ocean.
From the Press:
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is bringing in a bottlenose
dolphin expert from its Beaufort, N.C., laboratory to help make positive identification
of the dolphins and plan strategy in case the animals don’t find their way back out of
the river, said Teri Frady, a spokeswoman for the agency’s Northeast fisheries office.
“It is more troublesome if they are offshore dolphins,” Frady said. “It makes a
difference with prey in particular.”
These dolphins are swimming within an eighth-of-a-mile range in the river, Schoelkopf said.
They “go up north a little bit and then they turn south,” he said.
“They’re probably all females because they have two calves and the males aren’t
allowed to stay with them” when they have calves, he said.
“They’re showing agitation,” which is why they’re swimming within such a short
distance, he said.