The group of dolphins currently feeding in New Jersey’s Shrewsbury River has been creating quite a buzz among residents and visitors of the New Jersey shore.
The National Aquarium’s Marine Animal Rescue Program is a part of the North East Region Stranding Network, which is working closely with NOAA (The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) on the situation. Experts at the Aquarium can report the following:
Biologists from NOAA have been able to keep a close watch on the pod of dolphins, which were identified earlier this week as coastal bottlenose dolphins. NOAA experts are continuing to evaluate the group but have reported that the biggest threat to them at the moment is behavior of humans eager to commune with them.
The animals appear to be in good body condition, they are socializing, and do not appear to be in distress. And at this time, NOAA has no definitive plans to move or attempt to herd the dolphins, 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.”
The National Aquarium reminds beach and shore travelers to be cautious and considerate of animals in these situations. Coastal bottlenose dolphins are accustomed to human activities in their habitat, but encounters can be risky for both people and the animals.
We urge people to take advantage of the chance to see and appreciate these animals, but to do so from at least 50 yards away by using binoculars, spotting scopes, or telephoto zoom lens to get a closer look! Federal law prohibits interference with the animal’s natural behavior, pursuant the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972. Harassment is punishable by fines of up to $10,000.
Most importantly, if you come into contact with a marine animal notify the appropriate authorities: the U.S. Coast Guard, your local Aquarium, or fire or police departments.