RED BANK, N.J., Oct. 24 (UPI) -- U.S. wildlife experts have decided a pod of dolphins in a New Jersey estuary should be monitored instead of moved, a federal agency announced Friday.
Conditions in the Shrewsbury and Navesink rivers appear to be within what the dolphins can tolerate, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said in a statement.
"These animals are in typical habitat, food is present, and we have no reason to believe they are stressed," said Teri Rowles, director of the agency's National Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Program. "We're not going to interfere in what appears to be a completely natural phenomenon, especially when doing so carries a high risk of harming healthy animals."
The dolphins have been living in the two rivers, which empty into Sandy Hook Bay, since June. Thousands of people have come to the area to watch them from the bank or from boats, prompting warnings to boaters to keep their distance.
At least two have died of pneumonia. Bob Schoelkopf, head of the Marine Mammal Stranding Center in Brigantine, N.J., argued for moving the dolphins, telling WNBC-TV in New York he fears more will die in the river.