NoaaNOAA officials on dolphin watch in the Shrewsbury River in late June.

Federal marine authorities say they are one week closer to implementing an effort to lure or drive visiting dolphins out of the Navesink River and toward the Atlantic Ocean.

We received this update late Friday afternoon from Teri Frady, spokeswoman for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration:

NOAA’s ID and observation team surveyed the Navesink-Shrewsbury estuary
October 16 and 17, locating 10 dolphins in two groups that stayed mostly
in the vicinity of the Oceanic Bridge. The dolphins were observed
feeding and socializing, and so far 5 individuals have been positively
identified from the group monitored earlier in the summer.

We have also been meeting and conferring with members of the Northeast
marine mammal stranding network as well as other experts on two issues:
whether to try to physically move animals out of the estuary, and if so,
when. The past two days have been largely devoted to the latter,
establishing criteria that would trigger a move, what form that would
take, what assets (people, skills, and equipment) are required, and how
long it would take to stage for a move and related contingencies. The
attempt would probably occur over three days. If it happens, it won’t
be next week, but probably within 2-3 weeks.

Last week, marine experts came up with a series of options for dislodging the animals from their temporary home near the Oceanic Bridge. Plan A involves luring them out with underwater sounds of other dolphins feeding and socializing; plan B calls for driving them downriver with aversive sounds.

Two juveniles have been found dead in recent weeks. There’s no word on what became of the other four dolphins that made up the pod estimated at midsummer to include 16 members.

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