With good water and plenty of food, dolphins are enjoying a great summer in waters off New Jersey's beaches.

Bob Schoelkopf, founding director of The Marine Mammal Stranding Center in Brigantine, says we are seeing a lot more dolphins this summer because of the warm, pollution-free water that is chock-full of bait fish for the dolphins to feed upon.

According to Schoelkopf, dolphins are visible "just about anywhere along the Jersey coast from Island Beach south."

He says in Brigantine, you can go out every day, and you will see dolphins any number of times during the morning and afternoon when mothers are taking their youngsters out on feeding excursions. Cape May has a large population as well.

"There is all kinds of bait fish out there. Anything that they care to eat is in close to shore, which they like because they do not like to swim out into the deep water looking for it."

Schoelkopf says the bait fish are feeding on algae and plankton, both of which are plentiful. That means that there is more fish out there. Bigger fish feed on the smaller fish.

One of the other major factors is the warm — but especially clean — ocean water that is off our coast right now.

"I think the fact that people are learning more about the ecology, about the ocean, that dumping into the ocean is not what we want to see. There is less and less pollution going into the ocean through industry and less and less points of contact for people to throw in their trash. They are catching on that it is not a good thing to do."

There have been fewer dolphin stranding incidents on beaches this summer. But Schoelkopf cautions shore visitors that "since there are so many, when they are out in their boats and jet skis, just keep an eye out for them."

They cannot maneuver as fast as the jet ski can, and they could cause harm or mortality to one of those younger animals.

He says the lesson for people is when you take care of the water and the environment, the ocean is a better place for everyone.

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