I just received word that the Hudson River dolphin was found dead early this morning (Thursday, June 21st) near Pier 59 on West 18th Street, not far from where it was seen swimming in circles four days earlier.
Until today, I had not heard of any further sightings after Sunday afternoon.
According to DNAInfo.com, the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation has retrieved the body, which showed no obvious signs of trauma, and will perform an autopsy within the next few days to determine the cause of death.
Poor little dolphin. Yes, little.
The Atlantic bottlenose dolphin can weigh 800 pounds, according to the National Aquarium.
But according to Matthew Katz of DNAInfo, the NYC dolphin weighed just 150 pounds. It seems likely that it was a young animal, perhaps one that became separated too soon from its mother. The Clearwater Marine Aquarium is raising an orphaned dolphin that is now “almost one year old and weighs in at 150 pounds.” We’ll know more after the Riverhead Foundation has examined the animal.
Dolphins are highly social animals that travel in groups called pods and have a complex range of whistles, squeaks, and barks that they use to communicate with each other. Young dolphins nurse for 18 months or more, and may stay near their mothers for several more years.
As with many wildlife species, the mortality rate in the first year of life is high. Nature has a way of reminding us that life is not for the faint of heart. But hey, how many alternatives do we have?