Dolphin Becomes Trapped in East Rockaway’s Mill River. My home town!

August 01, 2020  •  1 Comment

Dolphin Becomes Trapped in East Rockaway’s Mill River. I was staying away from posting any photos or information about the situation, but the news is out.

Dolphins and whales have been seen in East Rockaway channel before. The whale named "Reynolds" for Reynolds Channel by Gotham Whale, was in the western back bays of Nassau County for about ten days a few years ago. Good news on the whale, it got out. Dolphins have been in the back bays many times before; it's not uncommon. The dolphin was first reported in the area on July 21st and is still in that area on Aug 01st.

This dolphin is in a very different situation than Reynolds the whale was. Right now (Aug 01, 3pm) the dolphin is in Mill River, not East Rockaway Channel. Mill River is brackish water, meaning the dolphin is swimming in water having more salinity than fresh water, but not as much as seawater. Dolphins that are not considered freshwater dolphins may visit or travel through freshwater environments, but they ultimately return back to their saltwater habitat. In this case, to get out to the ocean this dolphin needs to go out one of the two nearest inlets, which are East Rockaway Inlet and Jones Inlet. All the fish (food) dolphins normally eat are in that river and in abundance, so it will not go hungry. The dolphin is not being held down or entangled; it is freely breathing. The water is deep, so it should not get stranded. It looks to be in good health, but I am not a dolphin expert. With all the good mentioned there are a few bad things that make the odds of getting out to the ocean go down: bridges and stress.

Stress – Not good! Not being able to get back to the ocean, that is stressful on its own. Seeing groups of people in kayaks surrounding the dolphin just feet away is not good and is compounding the stress factor for this dolphin. The Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Endangered Species Act do not allow unauthorized people to get within 150 feet or 50 yards to view or interact with a wild dolphin. Feeding a dolphin, which was happening when the dolphin was in the East Rockaway boat basin, is illegal. Violations can be prosecuted either civilly or criminally and are punishable by fines of up to $100,000 and/or up to 1 year in jail. YEAH, read that again, these guys are serious about this.

Bridges – There are two bridges the Dolphin must navigate to get to the ER Channel. The LIRR train trestle, then the Atlantic Ave Bridge. The first, the LIRR Trestle, is a very shallow passage for the dolphin. There are rocks placed under the trestle to limit the amount of brackish water that gets out at low tide. The Atlantic Ave Bridge can be navigated by the dolphin at almost any tide.

My opinion, and take it with a grain of salt:
Here’s what needs to happen for this dolphin to reach the ocean. People need to leave it alone. The dolphin needs to get out of the river at a mid to high tide, the more water the better. This week we will have a full moon and heavy rain. The water (rain and tide) at outgoing tide will be rushing the river water out of Mill River to the East Rockaway Channel very fast. This is the time for the dolphin to get out of that river. If this dolphin can not make it out on its own this week coming up, a rescue of some type will have to happen. If a rescue won't/can't be performed and the dolphin can't get out, that dolphin will be there for a very long time. If all else fails, the unfortunate reality is, and it is tough to hear, this dolphin could be euthanized. 

FYI - If you see a dolphin or turtle in distress call NY Marine Rescue Center (NYMRC). The NYMRC has been on site, every day, since day one. They are there to educate people about what is going on and to help keep the public and the dolphin safe. At this point (8/03 3pm) the NYMRC is not performing a rescue or are planning a rescue, but this can change at any moment. NYMRC knows people are passionate about wild animals and dolphins and whales are on top of that list. Please respect what these NYMRC workers are doing, because they know what they are doing! What NYMRC workers do not need is people going off on them demanding "whatever" to be done so the dolphin can get out. Now these people going off are passionate, dolphin loving people with the best intentions for the dolphin. But the NYMRC knows best- let them do their job!

Again, all this is my opinion, agree or disagree but now ya know what I think, and let us hope the dolphin gets out!

Read up on the rescue attempts for Reynolds the whale here:

Reynolds the Humpback Whale situation.

Reynolds Channel Whale Event/Incident Action Plan

"Operation Reynolds" Trying to help save Reynolds the Humpback In Reynolds Channel


UPDATED PHOTOS----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

HHere is the outcome for the Dolphin! Very Sad!!!



Christine McLaughlin(non-registered)
Words cannot say how I feel about the dolphin passing. I would visit him at least once a day just to see how he was doing. Outcome was so sad and sadder is what you mentioned people were doing to him. Devastating!!! I thank you for your update and of course as many others wish it would have been positive. Thank you again!
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