Wayward dolphins may have returned home

July 9, 2008 3:33:04 PM PDT
For two weeks, 15 dolphins have made two New Jersey rivers their home and tonight they may be back at sea.Every day, the bottlenose dolphins have been spotted in the Shrewsbury, or Navesink rivers in Monmouth County.

But today, after several patrols, they weren't there.

After a thorough search off the Shrewsbury and Navesink Rivers by the New Jersey State Police Marine Unit, there were no sightings at all of the pod of 15 to 20 dolphins that have been swimming in the location since mid-June.

They were last sighted late yesterday, feeding in an area near the Oceanic Bridge in Rumson, but according to Bob Shoelkopf of the Marine Mammal Stranding Center in Brigantine, the number of dolphins counted by his staff dropped to 8.

There seems to be only half the number of the animals seen the day before in Shrewsbury. We asked the bridge people to contact us if they're sighted, but none yet today," Shoelkopf said.

"They did this once before, they just disappeared for a day then they reappeared. I don't know if they went further up the river or not. We just don't know," Sgt. Rich Schnyderite of the New Jersey Sate Police said.

The dolphins have been entertaining crowds for weeks, frolicking in the waters here. The assumption is they've come for the plentiful food.

Authorities have been keeping a close eye on the dolphins trying to keep the curious from getting too close.

"We get our reports every morning, where they are, what they're up to. We just try to keep them safe," Trooper Sean Hybbenth of the New Jersey State Police said.