(This article was originally published on OceanLines on August 6, 2008.)
A pair of dolphins in the Shrewsbury River
The group of bottlenose dolphins that swam into the Shrewsbury River in northern New Jersey in late June “are still in the estuary but have moved into the Navesink River (westerly) side of it,” says Teri Frady, a spokeswoman for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
“At present they appear to be staying with prey (primarily menhaden) ranging roughly between the Oceanic Bridge and Red Bank,” she said yesterday. She added that the dolphins are still behaving normally and all seem healthy. The conditions in the river remain well within the ranges tolerated by costal bottlenose dolphins.
NOAA still has no plans to remove the dolphins from the river while they remain healthy and calm. Trying to relocate them by scaring or luring them out of the river can cause severe stress and possibly even death.
Protected Resources Branch Leader at the NOAA Fisheries Service laboratory, Larry Hanson, urges everyone “to take advantage of the chance to see and appreciate these animals, but to do so from at least 50 yards away.”
Although these costal bottlenose dolphins are accustomed to human interruptions, they are still in danger. The biggest threat is human contact. Collisions with boats often result in death of the dolphins, and if swimmers get too close the dolphins will bite out of self defense and could injure the swimmers. Also, fines of up to $10,000 can be inflicted upon anyone who interferes with the dolphin’s behavior.
While it may seem nice to feed the dolphins, it can be extremely bad for them because they need to maintain their sharp hunting skills to survive. If they are fed from the side of boats it would encourage the dolphins to swim towards the boats which is highly dangerous from a collision standpoint.
NOAA scientists continue to monitor the health and safety of the dolphins and encourage anyone who witnesses abuse or harassment of the animals to report it. The U.S. Coast Guard is broadcasting a notice every 30 minutes reminding boaters to be careful and aware of the dolphins, to travel at slower speeds, and to maintain the proper distance if the dolphins are spotted.
Mother and calf
Copyright © 2008 by OceanLines
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