New Jersey Republican State Senator Sean Kean has called upon the state Department of Transportation to stop work on a route 36 bridge that spans the mouth of the Shrewsbury and Navesink River estuary in Mounmouth County New Jersey.
You might think it odd for a state legislator to call for the cessation of work on an important roadway in his district. But such is the case.
Senator Kean doesn’t want the project abandoned, he just wants it suspended until a group of immigrants leave the area.
Is this a sign that New Jersey Republicans are finally accepting the fact that illegal immigration is wrong and must be treated as such?
But even if that was the case, why suspend the final touches on a project that improves a bridge on a crucial artery?
Well the immigrants involved in this particular case are not illegal nor do they have green cards, passports, licenses, or any other verifiable identification but they do have fins.
They are Atlantic bottlenose dolphins and this particular pod consists of 12.
These 12 happy campers came to the area 6 months ago and have been enjoying their new digs in the Navesink and Shrewsbury Rivers ever since.
There presence in the area is not abnormal, just infrequent. More infrequent is the length of their stay in the area. In the past, most visiting dolphins have moved on by now for areas south around the Carolinas. But not this pod.
Experts say that their unscheduled visit it is not indicative of a problem though.
There are two ecotypes of bottlenose dolphins, offshore and coastal. The offshore bottlenose dolphins usually frolic further out to sea than the coastal variety and they do so in large groups often numbering in the hundreds. The coastal variety tend to stay closer to shore and often inhabit bays, harbors and rivers. They also run in groups much smaller than their offshore relatives. Normally 20 or less. With the exception of the the poles around both hemispheres, both ecotypes exist in tropical and temperate waters worldwide.
The pod presently roaming the Navesink and Shrewsbury rivers are apparently the coastal type and the duration of their time in these rivers is simply because this is where they want to be now.
Marine scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Fisheries Service out of Gloucester Massachusettes, along with other wildlife officials, claim that the pod of 12 are not in any danger. They add that none of the dolphins are exhibiting any sign of stress, disorientation or starvation. In fact experts believe that the pod is just acting normally, and probably following the path of fish they feed on.
Yet animal rescuers and members of the group Clean Ocean Action are not satisfied by that assessment.
They believe that construction on the bridge at the Shrewsbury-Navesink River estuary is the reason for the long stay of the dolphins. Their thinking is that the loud noise from pile-driving along with the presence of crane barges by the bridge, are preventing the pod from exiting the straight that the bridge spans.
Marine experts have testified that the happy and healthy animals are not effected by either the barges or the noise and, just in case, whenever the dolphins are found within 500 meters of the bridge, work is stopped until dolphins have moved on.
But the activist dolphin fans still call upon the animal experts to do something. They have requested that they “lure” the dolphins back out into Sandy Hook Bay.
Explaining that the move is unnecessary, NOAA officials assured the activists that in addition to having the same concern for the dolphins that they do, there just isn’t a need to force the dolphins to change the normal, natural behavior that they are exhibiting.
They further add that the attempts to capture, herd or lure the dolphins are unlikely to work and unnecessarily dangerous.
The lead veterinarian for NOAA was reported to say "we're letting these dolphins be wild dolphins." She added “we are not, as an agency, trying to limit the habitat of the recovering coastal bottlenose dolphins."
Given all of the testimony by professionals in the field, why would Senator Kean call upon the Transportation Department to stop working on what experts say has nothing to do with the longer than usual stay of the dolphins?
Among the only imagery sadder than a lifeless dolphin is an innocent, wide-eyed, fear struck, baby fur seal about to be clubbed over the head or Bambi weeping . If any number of these dolphins perished, Sean Kean does not want to be linked to their demise through any sad imagery of the dolphins that would be replicated on a slick campaign mailer sent out by his opponent in the next election and blaming him for their death.
So Senator Kean acted responsibly as far as electoral politics goes.
After all, he does not have the authority to force the D.O.T to stop a project, so no one can blame him if they don’t stop construction on the bridge,……. he tried.
But what if the Department of Transportation did decide to comply with his request?
What is politically expedient today for the senator, may not be politically expedient for him tomorrow.
If construction on the bridge did stop because of Kean’s request for the safety of the dolphins, how long would it be before the dolphins finally moved on and construction could resume?
The bridge in question happens to be heavily traveled, especially during the summer months when every single beachgoer coming from the north, including New York are traveling over it to get to the beaches of Sandy Hook , Sea Brite and many others past it.
Any traffic congestion during the summer months because of construction that was dealyed by the the dolphins will be compounded by a preponderance of beachgoers who locals call bennys, a term used by locals for the out of town, summer visitors out of frustration with with the extensive congestion of our roadways that the bennies cause as they flock to the Jersey Shore and make it more difficult for us to move out and about in our local neighborhood and on our beaches between Memorial day and Labor day.
The term is based on first letter of the towns that tourists rode through when taking the Jersey Shore line of the New Jersey Transit train system to and from the shore. They include Bayonne, Elizabeth, Newark and New York.
If Sean Kean’s requested cessation of construction on that bridge during the less traveled winter months, causes the construction to occur when the Bennies are clogging roadways during the summer months, the added delays will result in angry voters who will not be pleased with the senator‘s actions.
But Senator Kean has to do what he feels he has to do.
Perhaps he sincerely fears for the lives of these dolphins. As a feline enthusiast and cattery owner, I am an animal lover and that includes dolphins. So I could understand if his motovation was driven by heartfelt concern. But I can’t understand why he would disregard the advice of a group of people who also like dolphins but unlike either one of us, these animal lovers are experts concerning dolphins. They know much more about them than the senator and most, if not all, the concerned activists who are second guessing them.
Of course, he could just be going through the motions in a well conceived attempt to please everyone .
The senator probably understands that some people will not be satisfied by any evidence that contradicts their opinion. Some of the “stop the construction crowd” probably wouldn’t be convinced that the bridge isn’t effecting the dolphins even if Flipper himself popped out of the water and presented them with a notarized statement swearing that their concerns are unwarranted.
So, given the fact that the construction site operates with a monitoring systems that is sensitive to the dolphins needs and that the D.O.T is not likely to comply with his request, Kean publicly goes through with the request understanding that the dolphins are not at risk. But by officially calling upon the D.O.T to suspend work on the bridge, the activists will know that Sean Kean did all that he could to address their concerns while Kean knows the bridge will be completed before the busy summer months roll around and the dolphins will still be safe.
All that convoluted thinking kind of makes you wish you were a dolphin yourself. They don’t have to deal with trying to please everybody. They get to go where they want, when they want and how they want, and they do it all without a big bureaucracy charging them for it.
Which brings us to a different potential problem for the dolphins.
If these bottlenose dolphins stay in the Navesink and Shrewsbury Rivers too long, Governor Corzine and the Democrat led state legislature will certainly tax them and add a toll for them to pay when they do finally decide to leave.
Christmas Time in Washington
The Supreme Court ruled there cannot be a Nativity scene in Washington, D.C. this Christmas.
This isn't for any religious or constitutional reason, they simply have not been able to find three wise men and a virgin in the nation's capitol.
There was no problem however finding enough asses to fill the stable.