Watching NYC’s East River Dolphin

I spent a few hours this afternoon watching a dolphin in the East River off Manhattan’s Upper East Side.

Dolphin in NYC's East River. Photo: Melissa Cooper

Dolphin in NYC’s East River. Photo: Melissa Cooper

“I’m sorry, could you repeat that? Did you say, a dolphin in the East River?”

Dolphin in East River. Photo: Melissa Cooper

Dolphin in East River. Photo: Melissa Cooper

That’s right. As of two hours ago, a dolphin was swimming in the East River. I first heard about the dolphin this morning, when a reader wrote in to report spotting it near 96th Street. (Thank you, Samantha!) It seems to have spent most of the day swimming in the same general area off the East River Drive.

During the time I watched, it stayed on the west side of Mill Rock, a small uninhabited island.

Dolphin at northern end of Mill Rock. Photo: Melissa Cooper

Dolphin at northern end of Mill Rock. Photo: Melissa Cooper

It stayed south of the 103rd Street pedestrian bridge to Randall’s Island.

Pedestrian Bridge to Randall's Island at 103rd Street and the East River.

Pedestrian Bridge to Randall’s Island at 103rd Street and the East River.

It stayed north of the sanitation station.

Dolphin near 96th Street.

Dolphin near 96th Street.

It stayed east of the Triborough, er, I mean, the RFK Bridge.

Dolphin in front of RFK Bridge. Photo: Melissa Cooper

Dolphin in front of RFK Bridge. Photo: Melissa Cooper

The Riverhead Foundation believes the animal to be a bottlenose dolphin. The Foundation is gathering information about the dolphin, but is not immediately alarmed. According to their Facebook page, four other cetaceans have been reported in the East River since 2010, and all four were able to find their back out without intervention. Let’s hope this creature, too, follows the turn of the tide back out into the harbor.

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Check back soon for more on the New York dolphin and on New Yorkers watching the New York dolphin. And meanwhile, keep me posted on your urban wildlife sightings!

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For more on NYC’s cetaceans:

Dolphin Spotted in East River
Hudson River Dolphin
Whales in NYC
Hudson River Dolphin is Dead

Explore posts in the same categories: 2013, In the City, Sea Mammals, Wildlife/Natural History

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12 Comments on “Watching NYC’s East River Dolphin”


  1. […] tracking nature in the city & other NYC odysseys « Watching NYC’s East River Dolphin […]


  2. […] the city & other NYC odysseys « NYC Red-tails: Nesting on St John the Divine Watching NYC’s East River Dolphin […]

  3. p hoey Says:

    Thanks Melissa for blogs like a window on another world. Let’s hope our dolphin makes it out into open water.

  4. ailsapm Says:

    Aww, let’s hope this little guy tires of the bright lights, big city soon and returns home. Great photos, Melissa. xxx

  5. Mr. Mantooth Says:

    Thanks for the dolphin scoop.
    I think you were the first one on this —
    the Hildy Johnson of Urban Wildlife.


  6. Great pictures! Thanks for sharing them. I hope the dolphin finds its way home.


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