Keep Wild Dolphins Wild

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

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

In light of the continued presence in the East River of at least one dolphin, the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation reminds us that dolphins “are wild animals and should be treated as such.”

It’s only natural to feel a thrill at the sight of a magnificent, intelligent and charismatic wild animal right off the bustling shores of our huge city. We want to take photographs and shoot video to share our awe at the beauty and power of a free-swimming whale in our urban waterways.  We may feel the urge to get closer to the animal, whether to get a better shot, to feel more spiritually connected with another species, or just to heighten the thrill. But as we marvel at the animal’s presence, we must be sure that our impulses are moderated by respect for the dolphin’s independent existence and concern for its welfare.  This means: KEEP YOUR DISTANCE and DO NOT FEED THE DOLPHIN.

Here is an amusing Public Service Announcement sponsored by the NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association):

Most problems with wild animals – whether raccoons, geese, squirrels, pigeons, coyotes, bears or dolphins –  arise when the animal learns to associate humans and their habitations with food.  We landlubbers may not be accustomed to thinking of dolphins in this way. But dolphins that come to associate humans with food are more likely to approach boats and be injured, sometimes fatally, by entanglements with fishing hooks or lines or collisions with propellers.  According to NOAA, “feeding wild dolphins disrupts their social groups which threatens their ability to survive in the wild. Young dolphins do not survive if their mothers compete with them for handouts and don’t teach them to forage.” And from the point of view of human safety, dolphins bite. Powerfully. If those reasons don’t move you, maybe this will: It’s against the law.

For more information on wild dolphins and their interactions with humans, visit NOAA’s website, Don’t Feed Wild Dolphins.

For more on issues of feeding wild animals in NYC, read How Our Trash Kills Our Hawks, How Many Raccoons Live in Manhattan, Anyway?, New York Rats and Garbage, and Feeding Wild Animals: Squirrel Man Calls to his Friends.


Pedestrian Bridge to Randall’s Island.

Meanwhile, I recommend a walk along the East River or up the 103rd Street pedestrian bridge to see if you can catch a glimpse (from a respectful distance, of course) of NYC’s marine visitors.

I haven’t heard any reports today, so don’t know for sure if a dolphin still swims the river from the 90s to 103rd Street between Queens and Manhattan. Should you be lucky enough to see it (or them), please call Riverhead Foundation’s sighting hotline at (631) 369-9829.

Oh, and then let me know by leaving a comment here on the blog or sending an email to: Thanks!

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

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7 Comments on “Keep Wild Dolphins Wild”

  1. […] See on […]

  2. […] In light of the continued presence in the East River of at least one dolphin, the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation reminds us that dolphins "are wild animals and should be …  […]

  3. Charlotte Says:

    Good post! Always a bad idea to feed wild animals. My neighbor feeds skunks, crows and the occasional coyote, with negative consequences.

  4. Love that PSA! How clever. Thanks for sharing Melissa; I’m definitely reposting.

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