Dolphin110908A dolphin swims in the Shrewsbury River near the mouth of Navesink late Sunday afternoon.

The pod of Atlantic bottlenose dolphins that took up residence in the Shrewsbury and Navesink rivers this summer and autumn continues to ply those waters, even as temperatures gradually grow cooler.

In response to an inquiry about the number of dolphins and their status, redbankgreen received this reply this morning from Teri Frady, spokeswoman for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the federal agency charged with protecting the animals:

NOAA had an observation team of dolphin biologists on the water for three days during last week. Initial observations put the animals in two separate groups but with mixing, generally one around Oceanic & one south of the Highlands bridge. They were observed feeding (bay anchovy, menhaden positively ID’d), and around the Highlands Bridge during some parts of the days. Behavior appeared normal. I have asked for a slight clarification on the numbers, but we confirmed at least the same 12 as at the end of Oct.

Also, on Oct. 30 one hydrophone was placed adjacent to the Rte. 36 bridge construction, and a second just over a mile away, up the Shrewsbury. These are recording ambient sound with which we hope to correlate dolphin behaviors observed at the same time. The first round of data have been pulled (the batteries in the apparatus are good for about 8 days) and we will be reviewing this week.

UPDATE: Early this afternoon, Frady said she’d gotten confirmation that there are still 12 dolphins locally, and they’re the same ones identified in late October.

At its peak, the pod numbered 16. At least two have died and the fate of the other two is unknown.

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