Dolphins_rumson_oceanicDolphins near the Oceanic Bridge late Wednesday afternoon. (Photo courtesy of Mary Fenton)

We were just wrapping up our sixth visit to the dolphins since they moved into the Navesink River more than a week ago when we heard on the radio late yesterday afternoon that the dolphins had moved into the Navesink River.


Then we returned home to read on the Asbury Park Press website that that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration “has not received any accounts of dolphins in the Shrewsbury since they were first reported in the Navesink early last week.”

It seems National Public Radio was relying on an Associated Press wire service “report” of something that had been reported a week ago — first by redbankgreen, if you care, but never mind that. And it was everywhere. Newsday picked it up, as did , CBS News, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, and the U.K.’s Guardian among dozens of others. Many of them retained the AP’s ‘Red Bank’ dateline and reported nothing more than that the dolphins had changed locations from the Shrewsbury.

Everybody loves a good dolphin story, it seems, even if it’s as fresh as last week’s fishwrap.

Of course, there isn’t much to report except that the dolphins are still just west of the Oceanic Bridge between Middletown and Rumson.

But there may be fewer of them.

Kayaker Mary Fenton of Wall Township estimates that only about 10 were present yesterday, about half the peak reported size of the pod. We were watching them from the bridge, and that sounds about right, though they’re hard for amateurs to count. They don’t all come up for air at once, or even in one place.

Has the shrinkage of the group been confirmed? No. Have the others left? We don’t know.

Seems there’s a bit of lag between observations — redbankgreen‘s included — and reports of those observations making it to both the mainstream media and NOAA, the federal agency overseeing their safety.

For now, we continue to hear that the Navesink is teeming with menhaden, aka bunkerfish, which the Atlantic bottlenose dolphins apparently just can’t get enough of.

“They’re flipping out of the water,” Fenton says of the fish. The dolphins “are just banging the hell out of that fish. They’re going to hang around.”

The Press also reports that three boaters were given summonses over the weekend for harassing the dolphins, bringing to 11 the number of watercraft operators who’ve been cited under the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act since the dolphins arrived.

Email this story