Hudson River Dolphin

A dolphin was spotted on Sunday afternoon (June 17th) in the Hudson River.

Photo from (click to go to article)

Lucky people out for a Sunday stroll saw the animal heading south from Harlem to Chelsea, with sightings reported from 120th Street to 14th Street.  According to, which has been a terrific source for wildlife sightings in the city, a woman reported seeing the animal (probably a bottlenose dolphin) swim in circles for about half an hour near the pier at 14th Street.

Dolphins have been seen on other occasions in both the Hudson and the East River. The lower Hudson is, after all, a saltwater estuary, a body of water where salt water and fresh waters mix daily with the tides.

Waterways of New York City by Julius Schorzman; Wikimedia Commons

In addition to the whales of New York Harbor, marine mammals that have occasionally made their way into the lower Hudson include harbor seals, gray seals, a harp seal near Haverstraw, and, I kid you not, a 1000-pound manatee.

Still while the sight of a dolphin is not all that rare, the sight of a bottlenose dolphin swimming solo is apparently quite unusual.  Fortunately, the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation, which I first encountered after finding an adorable gray seal pup on Flying Point Beach on Long Island’s south fork, is on the job.

If you are lucky enough to spot the dolphin, please call  the Riverhead Foundation right away at (631) 369-9829 to report the time, location and behavior of the animal.  Assuming the dolphin is still around, the marine wildlife experts of the Riverhead Foundation will try to ascertain whether it is healthy or in need of assistance.  Should the animal show signs of distress, the Foundation is well equipped to care for it with the goal of releasing it back into the wild.

As always, knowledgeable wildlife experts urge people to leave the animal alone, and NOT FEED IT, advice which seems to be surprisingly difficult for our species to heed.

Oh, and once you’ve contacted the Riverside Foundation, don’t forget to contact me!  I’m guessing the dolphin has returned to the harbor, since I haven’t heard of any sightings since Sunday. But I’d love to know more about the NYC dolphin – or any other interesting wildlife encounters you may have.  You can always reach me by leaving a comment on Out Walking the Dog or you can email me at

And remember: keep your eyes peeled as you walk the city. You never know what you might see out there.

6/21: Sad Update on the Hudson River Dolphin:
The dolphin was found dead this morning near Pier 59 in Chelsea.

Explore posts in the same categories: 2012, In the City, Sea Mammals, Seasons, Summer, Wildlife/Natural History

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17 Comments on “Hudson River Dolphin”

  1. I was out riding my bicycle this afternoon and took a break on a bench along the Greenway at about 96th Street … and saw two dolphins leap out of the water, one following the other!

  2. […] Spotted in East River Hudson River Dolphin Whales in NYC Hudson River Dolphin in […]

  3. […] a dolphin this morning in the East River at 96th Street. She found my post on last summer’s Hudson River dolphin, and called the Riverhead Foundation to report the sighting. Within the last hour, it has been […]

  4. Samantha Says:

    Spotted a dolphin this morning swimming in the East River at 96th Street and couldn’t believe my eyes! While she didn’t look to be in distress, I wasn’t sure if she was lost or trapped, so I googled on proper protocol and found your site!

    I called the Riverhead Foundation to report the sighting just in case – so thank you for posting this information. I left my number as they requested so if there is any info to report I’ll be sure to pass it on.

    Thank you!

    • Wow, Samantha! Thanks so much for posting your comment. I’m happy to have been of help. Please do contact me if you have any further information. Poor dolphin to be so far up the East River – hope it heads back out to the harbor soon.

      • Samantha Says:

        Riverhead Foundation called me back to take note of the report and conditions and apparently ppl have been calling in all morning to report sightings. She was first spotted around 8:30 and last I saw her was about 10:20 in the same spot. They are sending someone over to check it out and make sure she’s not in danger. Will definitely keep you posted!

  5. Liz H Says:

    With these unusual sightings one wonders whether there has been some sort of disorientation – a wayfarer off course?

  6. mthew Says:

    There was also that Minke whale that was near the fetid mouth of the Gowanus Canal in April 07; it died on location.

    I have some pretty good stills and so-so motion of a humpback whale in the New York Bight, off Atlantic Highlands, NJ, — within sight of Manhattan’s towers — from last August.

  7. Wild_Bill Says:

    I’m always amazed at what you can find within the official limits of NYC. This siting is not quite as surprising given that dolphins will follow food, sometimes into perilous waters, for an easy meal. These dolphins are seldom singular so it is likely another is near by. Hoping you spot it again!

    • I believe you’re right about the feeding habits of dolphins. Following prey fish leads the up into rivers. One was found all the way up the Hudson in Albany, NY, according to my research, although it was not a healthy animal.

  8. Barbara Says:

    Hey Melissa what a wonderful experience – a bottlenose – hope this baby is just fine… and love that you are such a fine rescuer and give out such great advice. How did your play go by the way? I would love to read it, seeing it would be even better… may one day.

    You’ve got me now prepped to get back to my own blog which I’ve neglected for more than a month…

    But it won’t be nearly as much fun as your sightings of wildlife in such an urban centre as NYC –

    • I didn’t get to see this little dolphin myself. As I have just posted, it was found dead this morning. Sad. Will keep everyone posted, if I learn more after the experts conduct their autopsy.

      As for the play, the reading in NYC went beautifully. Now I’m getting ready to go to Dallas, where the play will be performed in July. Thank you for asking! I’m sure I’ll write more about it.

      Finally, I hope you will get back to writing your blog so I can get back to reading it.

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