Dolphins_rumson_oceanicDolphins near the Oceanic Bridge in mid-July. (Photo courtesy of Mary Fenton)

The dolphin found dead on a bank of the Shrewsbury River in Sea Bright on Christmas was a pregnant female whose stomach was empty of food, according to a report from

Those were early findings of a necropsy conducted on the carcass of the animal at the University of Pennsylvania, according to reporter Brian Williams.

The female is the third known member of a pod of 16 to have died. The pod moved into the Shrewsbury in June and later took up residence in the Navesink River, several miles farther inland.

From the report:

Advocates have been worried since cold weather set in that there would not be enough fish in the two coastal rivers for the large pod to eat.

While initial necropsies on two other dead members of the pod discovered so far have found obvious signs of pneumonia, that was not the case with this Christmas Day female.

Bob Schoelkopf of the Marine Mammal Stranding Center in Brigantine, New jersey tells that “health assessments (of the remaining pod members) should be made by qualified marine mammal veterinarians.”

NOAA’s Marine Fisheries Agency has observers on the rivers, but has yet to say if it has sent veterinarians there to explore their health.

The federal agency, which has legal jurisdiction over the animals, decided this Fall against a rescue effort, believing that wild animals should be allowed to survive on their own.

Advocates for the dolphins argue that human influences may have caused the dolphins to wander into the rivers, and have urged a rescue effort.

With both the mother, and baby she was carrying, dead, tissue samples are being sent to the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology in Washington, D.C. for further testing as to cause of death.

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