Dolphins Back in Navesink River

August 24, 2012

By John Burton

RUMSON – They’re back for another summer in the Two River area. Dolphins have been spotted – and photographed – swimming in the Navesink River.

Bottlenose dolphins surface in the Navesink River in Rumson on Tuesday, Aug. 21.

During the week of Aug. 19 at least four dolphins were seen swimming their way through river waters off the shore of Rumson.

“It isn’t surprising that they would come into the area,” said NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) Communica­tions Officer Maggie Mooney-Seus.

The dolphins’ return, Mooney-Seus said, could be the result of “an abundance of fish” in the Navesink and Shrewsbury rivers.

“They could be following food from the area,” Mooney-Seus said.

Historically, dolphins have used local waters as a path in their annual migration to warmer southern waters and as a feeding area following the summer.

“There is warmer water temperatures this year and that has been the trend over the last several years,” which is contributing to a larger stock of fish, attracting the dolphins, she said.

Another possibility, Mooney-Seus said, is “the population could be at such levels that we’re seeing more animals, reinhabiting areas formerly inhabited.”

Sheila Dean, co-director of the Marine Mammal Stranding Center, Brigantine, said her organization hasn’t had independent confirmation of the dolphins in this area and wouldn’t comment about it. However, she has had reports of more than 100 dolphins off Atlantic City and believes the warmer water temperatures and beginning of the migration are likely reasons. “It wouldn’t surprise me,” she said.

For now NOAA representatives plan “to let nature do its thing,” Mooney-Seus said. “We’ll be monitoring them and take whatever action is appropriate if it’s needed.”

During the summer of 2008 as many as 16 were seen swimming in the Shrewsbury River, off Sea Bright. As winter came, some were still there. The stranding center insisted it was noise from the High­lands Bridge construction project going on at the time that was disorienting them and endangering their lives.

That group and other animal rescue groups argued with NOAA officials about whether to take an active role in relocating the animals, with NOAA opposing such action.

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