Feds defend policy on NJ river dolphins

January 14, 2009 5:50:06 AM PST
Federal wildlife officials insist a hands-off policy is the best way to deal with five bottlenose dolphins who've lingered in the Shrewsbury River since June.

David Gouveia, marine mammal program coordinator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, told a public forum at Monmouth University tonight that trying to rescue the dolphins could do them more harm than good.

Critics fear the dolphins may perish as temperatures plummet and ice forms on the river.

Dolphins that summer in New Jersey waters usually migrate to warmer waters off the Carolinas during the winter months.

The five dolphins still in the river are part of a group that originally numbered 16.

Three have died. It's believed the other eight have left the river and returned to the open sea.