DOLPHIN STORY: A LOAD OF BULL SHARK?
Oceanic Marina owner Pete Pawlikowski says he’s never seen, or heard of, sharks in the Navesink River.
Are there, or have there been, sharks in the Navesink River lately?
How about shark-mangled seals?
An Associated Press story earlier this week reported that bull sharks aggressive predators up to 12 feet long that can tolerate freshwaters
have been known to swim in the section of the Navesink River where the 15 wayward dolphins have most recently been staying, said Bob Schoelkopf, co-director of the Marine Mammal Stranding Center in Brigantine.
“In that area are bull sharks that go in there quite frequently,” he said. “You never know what you might be looking at; it could be a dolphin or it could be a shark.”
The story, meant to serve as a warning to dolphin-watchers, also reported that while no one has documented the presence of a bull shark in the river “in recent weeks,”
“quite a few” injured seals were found in the area showing evidence of having been attacked by sharks.
“I have been here 25 years, and I have never, ever heard of or seen a shark” in the vicinity, says Pete Pawlikowski, owner of the Oceanic Marina.
The marina is near the southern anchorage of the Oceanic Bridge, just a few hundred yards from where the pod of dolphins, estimated to have 13 adults and three subadult members, is still feeding more than two months after entering inland waters via Sandy Hook Bay.
Mark Wellner, Rumson’s Public Works supervisor, who’s been on the river for 35 years, says he, too, has never seen or heard of a shark in the area. But he and his coworkers had heard the AP report, which left them scratching their heads, he said.
Pawlikowski says there was a seal a few years back that took to sunning itself on his dock. The seal didn’t get out of the river before the winter freeze and died, he says.
But shark-bit seals? “People have seen seals recently, but not dead ones” or injured ones, he says.
More from the AP story:
Schoelkopf said it might have been a shark that one man recently tried swimming after [sic] seeing something big break the surface of the water; the man’s wife later reported the encounter. The animal probably was not a dolphin because it never resurfaced, which dolphins must do regularly to breathe, Schoelkopf said.
redbankgreen has a call in to Schoelkopf to ask him for more details on what he’s heard about sharks and seals here. We’ll update this story once we’ve heard back from him.
As first reported on this site, the dolphins entered the Shrewsbury River on Father’s Day and spent the next three weeks swimming between the Highlands Bridge and the Rumson-Sea Bright Bridge.
On July 7, they moved upriver to the the vicinity of the Oceanic Bridge. Other than one reported foray as far west as the midriver osprey nest near the Red Bank-Fair Haven border, the animals are believed to have largely stayed put within half a mile of the Oceanic Bridge’s western flank, often drawing small clusters of admiring boaters, jet-skiers and kayakers.
Schoelkopf and other marine experts have consistently warned that the proximity of the powered vessels is a danger to the pod.
Marine experts say the mammals were feeding on huge schools of bunkerfish a favorite of he Atlantic bottlenose.