REPORT: DOLPHINS LEAVE, THEN RETURN

H-SB bridge
According to the stranding center, three dolphins passed under the bridge twice yesterday – once to enter Sandy Hook Bay, at right, and then to return to the river.

Three of the five Atlantic bottlenose dolphins said to remain in the Shrewsbury River after a half-year’s visit headed out into Sandy Hook Bay over the weekend before returning to the upper stretch of the river, according to a report from the Associated Press.

To do so, the dolphins had to twice pass under the Highlands-Sea Bright Bridge, which activists and elected officials have said the animals were loath to approach because of construction noise.

The return of the dolphins to the river was attributed to their being “apparently frightened by construction noise near the bay” after the trio had traveled some 1,000 to 1,500 yards into the bay, according to the Asbury Park Press.

The source of the noise was not specified.

This is from the Press, quoting Jay Pagel, senior stranding technician for the Marine Mammal Stranding Center in Brigantine:

About five hours after a report of the three dolphins splitting from
the other two, a call was received from a gentleman who had been
monitoring the dolphins that they all appeared to have returned to the
river again, where they remained on Sunday, Pagel said.

No further reports on the dolphins were received on Sunday, he said.

But the Associated Press reported last night that “Four dolphins tried to cross again Sunday but turned back, although it wasn’t clear why, the center said.”

Scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which has jurisdiction over the dolphins, contend there is no evidence that the dolphins have been dissuaded by noise from passing under the bridge. And while three of the original 16 member pod have died, the fate of eight others is unknown, leaving open the possibility that some may have left the inland waters.

Tomorrow night, NOAA’s Fisheries Service will host a public seminar on bottlenose dolphins at the Pollak Theatre at Monmouth University from 6p to 8p.

On the agenda is an update on overwintering by bottlenose dolphins in Virginia’s Broad Bay, as well as an update on the dolphins in the Shrewsbury River. The event is co-hosted by the university’s Urban Coastal Institute.

A question and answer session will follow. Those who intend to speak are asked to sign up at the door.

Directions are here. Parking is in the Larchwood Avenue lot.

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