ON TODAY’S AGENDA: DOLPHIN RELO

DolphinwatchA boater stands for a better look at dolphins near the Oceanic Bridge Wednesday afternoon. (Click to enlarge)

The deaths of two dolphins in recent weeks has prompted a telephone confab among marine and federal officials to consider whether and how to get the animals out of the Navesink River before it freezes this winter, today’s Asbury Park Press reports.

From the Press:

A conference call today “presumably” will consider the current situation and “when, where and how an intervention could occur,” said Teri Frady, a spokeswoman for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration‘s Fisheries Service.

Participants will discuss “basically the contingency plan that we’ve had all along — either some form of herding and capture — and discuss those options and what would be required and what’s best, that sort of thing,” she said.

NOAA officials think that attempting to herd or capture the dolphins is very risky and could lead to deaths, Frady has said.

But the discovery Wednesday of the second dead juvenile in two weeks has increased pressure on the feds, who have jurisdiction over the animals, to act. Some of that pressure has been coming from Congressman Frank Pallone.

“Every day that goes by puts the remaining dolphins in danger,” he said in a prepared statement. “They need to be evacuated to their natural habitat in the Atlantic Ocean.”

According to the report, representatives of NOAA’s National Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program, the Marine Mammal Stranding Center in Brigantine and state Department of Environmental Protection are expected to participated in today’s conference call. “The plan seems to be to take less invasive steps, like using noise to herd the dolphins initially, with physical removal as a last resort if all else fails,” Pallone said in his statement.

The Press also has some details about the dead animal:

The Marine Mammal Stranding Center in Brigantine removed the latest dead dolphin from the Middletown shoreline on Thursday morning.

A necropsy was being done at the University of Pennsylvania’s New Bolton Center in Kennett Square, Pa., according to Robert C. Schoelkopf, stranding center founding director.

The New Bolton Center treats large animals.

The dead juvenile dolphin weighed 170 pounds and was in poor condition, Schoelkopf said. It was bloated and has been dead for several days.

It was discovered on private property in Middletown, almost directly across the Navesink River from where a dead juvenile dolphin was found in Fair Haven on Sept. 24, according to officials.

The final results of a necropsy on the first dead dolphin, which had pneumonia, were not yet available.

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