COUNTY: DON’T PARK TO DOLPHIN-WATCH

Img_4564Motorists flock to the railing of the Oceanic Bridge when car traffic is stopped for boat traffic. Cars have also been stopping when they’re not supposed to, county officials say.

Monmouth County is warning motorists not to park on the Oceanic Bridge in the wake of numerous instances of drivers stopping on the span to dolphin-watch.

“Public interest in viewing the dolphins in the Navesink River is creating a public safety issue,” John Tobia, director of the county’s Department of Public Works Engineering says in a press release dated Tuesday. “Recently, motorists seeking to get closer to the dolphins have begun parking on the Oceanic Bridge. This creates a problem for other motorists and a safety issue for pedestrians and bicyclists attempting to cross the bridge.

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Enforcement of rules and ordinances on county bridges are carried out by local law enforcement agencies. Middletown and Rumson police departments will ticket any vehicle parked on the Oceanic Bridge.

“This effort will make sure that safe passage on the bridge continues for motor vehicles, bicyclists and pedestrians,” said Tobia. “The county appreciates the enforcement efforts of officers in Middletown and Rumson.”

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STILL CHOWING DOWN IN THE NAVESINK

Navesink_dolphinAn Atlantic bottlenose breaks the surface of the Navesink on the Middletown side Monday afternoon. (Click to enlarge)

It’s been some time since there’s been anything to report on the dolphin pod that moved into local inland waters seven weeks ago.

Well, we won’t let that stop us from reporting that the situation is unchanged.

The mammals are still in the Navesink River between Middletown and Rumson, spending most of their time within a few hundred yards of the Oceanic Bridge, feeding on bunker and always attracting an audience of boats and personal watercraft.

Oh wait, there’s this: an official number of dolphins. Terri Frady, a spokeswoman for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which has jurisdiction over the animals, tells us that after studying hundreds of photographs over a three- or four-day period, experts have concluded that there are 16 dolphins in the pod — 13 adults and three “subadults.”

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STORM: RUMSON, SEA BRIGHT HIT HARD

Various unconfirmed emergency calls picked up over the police scanner during the storm:

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• A swimming pool reported in the middle of Ocean Avenue in Sea Bright

• Phone line to Barnacle Bill’s in Rumson pulled down (initial report said power line)

• Capsized kayak with two people hanging off the side in the Shrewsbury River off Rumson; update — two brothers are safe and on dry land

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LIGHTNING VICTIM WAS FROM ELIZABETH

Authorities say the man who was killed by a lightning strike on Sandy Hook Sunday was a 38-year-old Elizabeth resident.

Two others, women in their 30s whose identities have also not been disclosed, were injured by the strike. They were reported to be in stable condition last night at Jersey Shore Medical Center in Neptune, according to the Asbury Park Press.

Down in Cape May County, four people were hospitalized after three lightning strikes within an hour. Two of the victims were hit on a beach, one was on an amusement pier, and one was in a parking lot, the New York Times reports.

A total of 12 people were struck by lightning in the New York-New Jersey region, according to various reports.

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BEACHGOERS REPORTED HIT BY LIGHTNING

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Monmouth County and Sea Bright emergency personnel reported at 12:21p that three people were struck by lightning on Sandy Hook’s Beach B.

Emergency personnel from Highlands were reported at 12:45p to be enroute with two victims to Monmouth Medical Center in Long Branch. A third victim was being taken to Jersey Shore Medical Center in Neptune.

We’ll have a fuller report once it becomes available.

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GLOBAL WARMING OUTLOOK: WET & COSTLY

Img_1867Sea Bright and other coastal areas could expect more scenes like this one, from tropical storm Ernesto in 2006, according to a report that also examines the economic wallop of rising seas.

The economic impacts of global warming on New Jersey could run to the tens of billions in coming decades, says a new report highlighted in today’s Star-Ledger.

From the Sledger:

A rapid rise in sea level, increased flooding and more frequent and more intense storms will damage the state’s coastal communities, including businesses, infrastructure and freshwater supplies, the Center for Integrative Environmental Research at the University of Maryland said.

The rising sea level also poses risks to coastal shipping, commercial fishing and tourism. New Jersey’s coastal communities generate 70 percent of the state’s total annual tourism dollars, according to the researchers, who also issued reports for seven other states.

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GROWING UNEASE OVER DOLPHIN INACTION

Dolphins_rumsonA kayaker watches a dolphin off Rumson last week.

Today’s Star-Ledger has an Associated Press story reporting that the folks at a marine animal advocacy group are getting anxious about a federal agency’s reluctance to tease our visiting dolphins out of the Navesink River and back out to their customary habitat, the Atlantic Ocean.

The story’s on the website of the Sledger’s sibling newspaper, the Jersey Journal.

It says, in part:

Robert Schoelkopf, director of the Marine Mammal Stranding Center, is worried that with every day that goes by, the dolphins are getting more comfortable in a place they cannot survive in for long.

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BUCKY STOPS BY FOR A TWO-NIGHTER

BuckydesareLegendary guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli and pianist-singer Tony DeSare photographed at River’s Edge Café, where they’ll be returning this weekend as part of the Summer Jazz Café series.

By TOM CHESEK

Maybe it’s that seventh string on his guitar; a custom-crafted Benedetto Signature model that transports his playing to a dimension beyond your garden variety six-pickers. Or maybe it’s the sixth sense he’s developed that allows him to steer a tin-pan standard from the outskirts of improvisation back to safe harbor. Could be it’s just the sixty-plus years of professional experience he’s racked up; years that have seen this lifelong Jersey guy play with everyone from Vaughn Monroe, Les Paul and Benny Goodman to Rufus Wainwright and his own kids.

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Impressive stats are about the only thing that Bucky Pizzarelli does strictly by the numbers. Like one of his relaxed, satisfying sets of songbook standards, the guitarist has forged a long-play career that’s segued easily from big-band bombast to small-combo swing; from one of the most sought-after session players in New York, to a stint as a band member on the old Tonight Show, and on to a late-life role as a bandleader and recording artist under his own name. He’s made an investment in a musical family (meticulous guitar whiz and jackrabbit scatmaster John, bassist Martin and classical guitarist Mary) that continues to pay dividends for his own career. He’s played ’em all, from the Hollywood Bowl, Carnegie Hall and the White House (three times), to the River’s Edge Café on Broad Street.

It’s to the River’s Edge that Pizzarelli returns this weekend, as headliner of the latest two-night stand in the 2008 Summer Jazz Café series. Even at the age of 82, the guitarist is hardly the sort of guy who would say no when friends call to set up a gig — and whenever Joe Muccioli of the Red Bank-based Jazz Arts Project requests his presence at another of his soirees, the Buck is sure to stop here.

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SEA BRIGHT AGAIN MULLS BORO HALL MOVE

Img_5314Future home of borough hall?

By SUE MORGAN

Maybe some day Tapestry International, a creator of original programming for the likes of MTV and Animal Planet, will make a documentary about Sea Bright’s long search for a new, state-of-the-art town hall.

Meantime, the borough council has to figure out whether or not Sea Bright could afford and would benefit from buying the building that is home to Tapestry’s television production studios at 3 Church Street as a new base of municipal operations.

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A DUNESDAY SCENARIO FOR JOHN EASDALE

Dramarama6Whoa, flashback: John Easdale of Dramarama headlines the bill at the annual Dunesday event this Saturday at Donovan’s Reef.

By TOM CHESEK

Less than a year ago, the mood around Donovan’s Reef had a touch of doomsday about it.

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The landmark Sea Bright oceanside bar — one of the last remaining sources for old-school Shore kicks in a region increasingly defined by champagne wishes and caviar dreams — had announced that the summer of 2007 was to be its last stand on the sand. Two of the three owners expressed a desire to put the property’s no-nonsense building, generous parking lot and private beach up for sale, and the club even hosted a “farewell forever” bash for its generations of loyal patrons.

As reported here on redbankgreen over the past several months, the rip-currents of the real estate market apparently provided a stay of execution for the place where summer never seems to go out of style. The upshot? Co-owner Bob Philips and his partners Chris Bowler and Robert Carducci declared that Donovan’s would live again for summer 2008 — with “the only piece of [oceanfront] property open 365 days a year between Sandy Hook and Cape May” resuming a full seven-days-a-week schedule that climaxes this Saturday with the annual day-long celebration that is Dunesday.

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DOLPHINS REFUSING TO MAKE NEW NEWS

Dolphins_rumson_oceanicDolphins near the Oceanic Bridge late Wednesday afternoon. (Photo courtesy of Mary Fenton)

We were just wrapping up our sixth visit to the dolphins since they moved into the Navesink River more than a week ago when we heard on the radio late yesterday afternoon that the dolphins had moved into the Navesink River.

Huh?

Then we returned home to read on the Asbury Park Press website that that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration “has not received any accounts of dolphins in the Shrewsbury since they were first reported in the Navesink early last week.”

It seems National Public Radio was relying on an Associated Press wire service “report” of something that had been reported a week ago — first by redbankgreen, if you care, but never mind that. And it was everywhere. Newsday picked it up, as did , CBS News, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, and the U.K.’s Guardian among dozens of others. Many of them retained the AP’s ‘Red Bank’ dateline and reported nothing more than that the dolphins had changed locations from the Shrewsbury.

Everybody loves a good dolphin story, it seems, even if it’s as fresh as last week’s fishwrap.

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WINGS CLIPPED, BUT BACK AT THE WHEEL

Dsc00567Reconstituted as The Driving Service, the company’s founders (seen outside Brannigan’s in Red Bank in this 2007 photo) are Vince Falcetano, Norm Dannen, Zach McCue and Colin Keany.

Readers of redbankgreen may recall our feature article of a year ago on four enterprising college students who started a summertime car service for the inebriated called the Wingmen.

Well, soon after that, the foursome — childhood friends from Rumson — starting getting pestered by a company in Texas with a similar name that claimed the guys were infringing its turf.

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THE VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE

Rumson_dolphinsRumson_dolphins_2_2Motorists took advantage of bridge-opening intervals to get out of their cars and look at the dolphins feeding in the Navesink just west of the Oceanic Bridge Sunday evening. Except for the river itself. the bridge is the only publicly accessible location from which to view the dolphins. But there’s no sidewalk on the west side of the bridge, and authorities, concerned about safety, have asked that pedestrians stay off that side. (Click photos to enlarge)Img_4564

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SLEDGER: TRAFFIC & A ‘DOLPHIN SPOTTER’

Img_3116The Highlands Bridge as seen earlier this week, looking west from the Sandy Hook overpass.

Today’s Star-Ledger has a dire forecast for beachgoers heading home from Sandy Hook by car this weekend: “traffic stretching as far as the eye can see” as a result of construction work on the Highlands Bridge.

The outlook is somewhat better for the Atlantic bottlenose dolphins that have been vacationing in inland waters for nearly four weeks: their very own traffic cop. The state Department of Transportation has hired a “dolphin spotter” to keep a lookout for the pod should it decide that now’s a good time to finally head under the bridge and back toward the ocean, the Sledger reports.

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YES, IN THE NAVESINK: DOLPHINS

Rumson_dolphinsDining al fresco on the west side of the Oceanic Bridge, under the admiring watch of nearby boaters, were these two members of the pod. (Click to enlarge)

Maybe they got bored just shuttling back and forth in the Shrewsbury River for three weeks.

The dolphin pod that became a tourist attraction in Sea Bright has moved, for now, into the Navesink River west of the Oceanic Bridge, about three miles away.

Last night, they were feasting opposite the Rumson-Fair Haven border, where boaters say huge schools of bunkerfish — a favorite of he Atlantic bottlenose dolphin — have been seen in recent weeks, much as they have been in the Shrewsbury.

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DOLPHINS IN THE NAVESINK?

Img_3168If they show up, don’t feed ’em. So says this NOAA sign posted on the pier at Marine Park in Red Bank.

rebankgreen has been following up — fruitlessly, thus far — reports that the dolphin pod that has transfixed visitors to Sea Bright in recent weeks traveled up the Navesink River today, perhaps as far as Red Bank.

We got onto this story when a parking lot attendant for Ship Ahoy beach club in Sea Bright told us this afternoon that the dolphins had broken their usual pattern of going north and south in the Shrewsbury River and had headed west into the Navesink.

Shortly thereafter, Rob Mehler, a bridge operator on the Oceanic Bridge, between Rumson and Middletown, told us he was informed when he came on duty today that dolphins had gone under that span early this morning and had not returned.

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LNG OPPONENTS SWIM WITH DOLPHINS

Coast_tshirt_frontCoast_tshirt_backClean Ocean Action’s Casey Shanley models the latest in environmental beachwear.

By SUE MORGAN

Piggybacking on the popularity of the dolphin pod that’s been in the Shrewsbury River since mid-June, Clean Ocean Action last week took aim at three proposals to create liquefied natural gas terminals off the Monmouth County coast.

With a private plane towing a “Help! Save the dolphins!” banner overhead, COA Executive Director Cindy Zipf and other speakers at the July 3 press conference on the Sea Bright boardwalk appealed to the public’s love of the frolicking marine mammals in an effort to sink the plans.

One proposal, by the Atlantic Sea Island Group, calls for a manmade island terminal to be built in the Atlantic Ocean 19 miles off east of Sea Bright for the ‘regasification’ of liquified natural gas. Two other companies have proposed similar operations off Asbury Park and Manasquan.

The proposals, as well as the unusual presence of some 15 to 20 Atlantic bottlenose dolphins swimming nearby, served as ammunition for Zipf and other speakers. COA, a consortium of about 125 organizations, claims construction of the island will “harass” some 1,000 dolphins and whales, and disrupt the lives of 700 such animals each year of operation.

Yes, the ocean and other waterways are cleaner than they were more than 25 years ago, when COA began its mission to end ocean dumping, Zipf acknowledged. However, until federal laws prohibiting the creation of LNG terminals and offshore drilling are on the books, some individual or corporation will always entertain the notion of industrializing the ocean for profits, she noted.

“People will always continue to find destructive things to do to the ocean,” she said.

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EXACT SAME SHOW, 1/20TH THE HASSLE?

Rumson_fireworks3The view from Victory Park in Rumson last year.

Hey, it was bound to get out anyway.

For the second year in a row, Rumson will be home to a spectacular July 3 fireworks display to rival that of its far more famous neighbor, Red Bank.

No, check that. It doesn’t rival Red Bank’s kaboomery; it matches it. Exactly.

Same shells, fired at exactly the same time, to the same music, in a skyfire display run off the same computer program by the same world-famous fireworks company, Garden State Fireworks.

“The two shows are absolutely the same, but 3.5 miles apart,” Rumson Mayor John Ekdahl tells redbankgreen. “I have trouble communicating that. People are incredulous when I tell them.”

Incredulous, perhaps, because the Red Bank show — billed as the state’s largest — is believed to turn some 150,000 pairs of eyeballs to the sky over the Navesink River, while Rumson’s rookie effort attracted just 7,500 pairs, and a proportionally smaller traffic jam.

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DOLPHINS HALT BRIDGE DEMO, FOR NOW

Img_1152Cranes and other equipment brought in for the demolition of the Highlands-Sea Bright Bridge will be idle until Monday, in deference to the dolphins.

By SUE MORGAN

Thanks to those hungry bottlenose dolphins in the Shrewsbury River, work on the Highlands-Sea Bright Bridge has come to a halt, at least till next week.

When some Sea Bright residents theorized that the noise from several barges docked near the 35-foot-high drawbridge over the Shrewsbury River might be hampering attempts by the dolphins to swim out to sea, Councilwoman Dina Long called the powers in Trenton.

On reaching a representative of Governor Jon Corzine‘s office Monday, Long asked that the state Department of Transportation temporarily cease work until July 7 to give the dolphins a shot at safe passage out to Sandy Hook Bay and the Atlantic Ocean.

“We asked that the DOT, as a goodwill gesture, back off on any construction until after July 4th,” Long said.

The state agreed, she said, effectively extending the Independence Day holiday for contractors getting ready to demolish the bridge.

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DOLPHINS GIVE SEA BRIGHT A BOOST

Img_2380Dolphin_watcherAll the dolphin gawking was the subject of a piece on last night’s NBC Nightly News, hosted by Middletown-raised Brian Williams.

By SUE MORGAN

Save the airfare and the money you would have blown on souvenirs — if it’s a dolphin show you want, Sea Bright is the place to be.

Since June 15, when a pod of 15 to 20 Atlantic bottlenose dolphins first flashed their fins in the Shrewsbury River, growing pods of spectators have been gathering along the riverbanks to catch a glimpse of the unexpected visitors before they swim out to sea.

While the dolphins feast on the menhaden believed to have lured them into the waterway, human visitors are fueling an economic boon and public relations campaign completely unforeseen by town leaders, said Mayor Maria Fernandes, giving a boost to riverside eateries such as McLoone’s Rum Runner, Gaiters and Something Fishy.

One Ocean Avenue restaurant and lounge, the Riverside Café, even advertises on its roadside marquee that patrons can watch the dolphins from its outdoor deck.

“As far as Sea Bright goes, we love them,” Fernandes said during Tuesday night’s Borough Council meeting. “It’s brought positive press and a lot of attention to the town.”

Media attention has gone national, with reports on the Today show and NBC Nightly News, among others.

“Watching the dolphins has become the biggest attraction on the Jersey shore since the early days of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band,” NBC anchor Brian Williams intoned last night.

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NOAA WON’T NUDGE DOLPHINS FOR NOW

Img_1478NOAA’s ark, er, motorboat as seen from Sea Bright on Sunday morning.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says today that it is still monitoring the pod of bottlenose dolphins that’s been in the Shrewsbury River for more than two weeks, but no measures to shepherd the mammals out of the river into Sandy Hook Bay will be undertaken “at this time.”

From a press release issued today by NOAA, an arm of the federal Commerce Department:

NOAA has no definitive plans to move or attempt to herd the dolphins at this time, although it is preparing to do so if it becomes necessary. “It’s a last resort,” said Teri Rowles, director of NOAA’s National Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program. Such a process is complicated, usually has mixed success, and is highly stressful for the animals sometimes resulting in death.

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DOLPHINS A SEA BRIGHT SENSATION

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From boats, land, docks and bridges, everybody wants to get a gander at the dolphins, it seems.

“We were just saying that mothers are probably telling their kids, ‘no dolphins if you don’t finish your dinner,'” one woman quipped as she awaited the return of the mammals to the vicinity of McLoone’s Rum Runner in Sea Bright last night.

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DOLPHINS IN NO HURRY TO LEAVE

Dolphins_bridge2DolphinleapWith a clear shot at the Highlands-Sea Bright Bridge — the gateway to Sandy Hook Bay — the dolphins instead chose to extend their stay in the Shrewsbury River late Sunday afternoon.

Two weeks later, they’re still here.

The pod — or pods, depending on who’s talking — of an estimated 15 to 20 dolphins that showed up in the Shrewsbury River on Father’s Day continued shuttling back and forth between two bridges through the weekend.

All the while, they feasted on the ample supply of Atlantic menhaden in the waterway, according to a marine mammal specialist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

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WATERCRAFT SHADOW THEIR EVERY MOVE

Dolphins5A sailboat under power gets close to the dolphins between Sea Bright and Highlands late Friday afternoon.

Trailed and often surrounded by big boats, small boats and personal watercraft, a pod of dolphins moved back and forth in the upper Shrewsbury River late Friday afternoon.

When the dolphins neared the gateway to Sandy Hook Bay and the sea — the Highlands-Sea Bright bridge — they reversed direction, and several of the vessels did so too, only to be joined by more jet skiers and small boats.

A State Police marine patrol boat that had been in the river about 90 minutes earlier wasn’t visible.

Meanwhile, on land, some people expressed anger about the boaters and what they considered harassment of the dolphins. “I can’t believe how incredibly selfish they’re being,” said a woman waiting in the parking lot at McLoone’s Rum Runner restaurant, a favorite gathering spot for dolphin watchers.

Kerry Gowan, Sea Bright’s animal control officer, said she’d seen three people jumping off a boat into the river where the dolphins were swimming Thursday evening, and when she called to them to stop, “they flipped me off.” So she called the State Police.

“We’re now taking registration numbers” off boats, she said. Fines for harassing the dolphins start at $2,000 and can include an immediate seizure of a vessel, she said.

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PRESS: DOLPHINS BEING ESCORTED NORTH

Dolphins2Dolphins in the Shrewsbury River near the confluence of the Navesink yesterday.

The Asbury Park Press reports that the dolphin pod in the Shrewsbury River is heading north.

The U.S. Coast Guard and state Marine Police [are] giving them an escort and keeping recreational boaters away from the dolphins as they head north toward the bay.

Officials hopeful they will reach the bay today.

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