The whitened body of an Atlantic bottlenose dolphin was found near the Route 36 bridge between Highlands and Sea Bright Tuesday and will be examined by federal scientists today to determine if the animal was a member of a pod that spent seven months in the Shrewsbury and Navesink rivers starting last June.
That’s according to the Associated Press, which first reported the discovery of the carcass by contractors working on the replacement of the bridge.
Bob Schoelkopf, co-founder of the Marine Mammal Stranding Center in Brigantine, told the wire service that he thinks the dolphin was one of the five remaining animals from an original group of 16 that he and others fought unsuccessfully to have the federal government capture and relocate.
From the article:
“I think it was,” he said. “This is something I’ve seen before in
previous years, where the animal dies over the winter and shows up in
the spring when the water gets warmer.”
The dolphins were last confirmed to be in the inland waters on January 13, when five were seen in the Shrewsbury River. Two days later, several eyewitnesses reported
seeing multiple animals travel under the bridge into Sandy
Hook Bay just as ice was forming in the river. There have been no reported sightings since then.
At the time, Schoelkopf said he believed the last of the pod’s members had perished.
A spokeswoman for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration, which has legal oversight of the animals, told the AP that tests would conducted today to see if the animal was from the pod.
Scientists had developed a detailed database of information about the pod members, identifying them by the shapes and markings on their dorsal fins.