Bottle-nose dolphin makes short visit to Astoria

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Photo gallery

The dolphin's dorsal fin is visible above the water. Photo by Christina Santucci
The bottlenose dolphin pops its head out of the water in the East River near Astoria. Photo by Christina Santucci
The dolphin swims close to Queens with Randall's Island in the background. Photo by Christina Santucci
The mammal's tail splashes the water as it dives back down. Photo by Christina Santucci
The dolphin delighted several Astoria residents walking along Shore Boulevard Friday afternoon. Photo by Christina Santucci
The bottlenose dolphin has been spotted in the East River for the past several days. Photo by Christina Santucci

A bottlenose dolphin that delighted residents along the East River in Queens and Brooklyn late last week seems to have swum to fairer seas, a Long Island nonprofit to protect marine animals said.

“We haven’t really heard much about the dolphin in the last couple of days,” Rob DiGiovanni, the foundation director and senior biologist at the Riverhead Foundation in Riverhead, L.I., said Wednesday. ”As of right now, we have no confirmation that the dolphin is in the river.”

DiGiovanni said his organization received calls about the dolphin swimming about 20 yards offshore near Astoria at around 4:30 p.m. Friday The dolphin originally showed up on the Manhattan side two days earlier and the nonprofit, which protects marine animals, had been watching its movements.

“What we know from talking to local people who have seen it is it is on the east side of the East River,” DiGiovanni said last week. “We are still monitoring the situation.”

DiGiovanni said the bottlenose dolphin had been free-swimming, which indicates it was healthy, as sick animals tend to be unaware of their surroundings.

The animal may have been sighted by a kayaking group near Williamsburg, but the foundation could not confirm it.

DiGiovanni said while dolphins are becoming a more common sight in the East River compared to 20 years ago – with four different sightings since 2010 — the organization has not had the funding to do greater research into why the dolphins visit the New York shores. The dolphins usually leave within a few days.

“What draws them into the river would only be speculation,” he said.

He encouraged the public to call the Riverhead Foundation’s hotline at 631-369-9829 to report what they have seen of the dolphin’s movements. But he warned the public not to try to touch or feed the dolphin, which is illegal.

“The public have definitely been helpful for keeping an eye out for what’s there,” DiGiovanni said.

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4564.

Updated 12:46 am, March 21, 2013
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