HighlandsseabrightbridgeThe Highlands-Sea Bright (Route 36) Bridge, as seen yesterday from the deck at Gaiter’s Restaurant in Sea Bright.

Pile driving and other loud work on the Highlands-Sea Bright Bridge now under reconstruction has been quieted to enhance the possibility that two dolphins seen just south of the structure earlier today might make a dash for Sandy Hook Bay, according to a spokeswoman for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.


Teri Frady, in an email update to reporters and others, writes:

This morning observers from NOAA and the Marine Mammal Stranding Center
confirmed two bottlenose dolphins in the Shrewsbury, nearing the
Highlands Bridge and five west of the Oceanic Bridge. Later, between 10
and about 11:30 AM, two were confirmed within 500 m of the Route 36
Highlands Bridge–possibly the same two from the Shrewsbury. [Update: later in the day, three more were confirmed in the Navesink, bringing the total believed to be in that river to eight.]

DOT is using a NOAA-approved observer from the Marine Mammal Stranding
Center when dolphins may be in the area. That observer has been
monitoring dolphins near the bridge today and reports that all
construction using pile driving and other high vibration operations is
being stopped while the dolphins are within a 500 m buffer zone around
the bridge.

NOAA had a small team on the water this morning. The ID experts are
expected this afternoon and will get out on the water today if
conditions and daylight permit. Otherwise, tomorrow.

We have also had a report of a “coughing,” dolphin but have not
confirmed. To be honest, I don’t know if dolphins can cough, but will
ask the behaviorists and let you know. I do know they do something
unrelated to illness called “chuffing” — sharp inhales and exhales
through their blowholes, and that can sound like a cough.

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