A dolphin in the Shrewsbury River in November.

The federal agency in charge of protecting the dolphins that took up residence in the Shrewsbury and Navesink rivers last June says it has no evidence that any are left in the inland waterways, either dead or alive.

In an email sent late Tuesday afternoon, Teri Frady, spokeswoman for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
, says:

Today, two NOAA scientists conducted an aerial survey of the Shrewsbury
and Navesink Rivers aboard a helicopter provided and piloted by Coast
Guard Air Station Atlantic City, N.J., looking for the bottlenose
dolphins that have been living in the area since last June. Sighting
conditions were excellent. No live dolphins or dolphin carcasses were

The survey was first since mid-January, when ice formation in the rivers
precluded further water-based sighting surveys for the dolphins, and the
first from the air. The survey flight covered both rivers, Sandy Hook
Bay and the nearshore waters from Sandy Hook to approximately Belmar, N.J.

Dolphins were last confirmed to be present on January 13, when five were
documented in the Shrewsbury River. Several eyewitnesses reported
seeing multiple animals travel under the Highlands Bridge and into Sandy
Hook Bay on Thursday, January 15, 2009.

On January 19, Bob Schoelkopf, co-director of the Marine Mammal Stranding Center in Brigantine, told the Associated Press that increasing ice in the rivers, coupled with the fact that no one had reported seeing the animals in more than three days, indicated they had perished.

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