If you didn’t know that dolphins frequent the waterways of the Big Apple, you’re not alone.
On January 19, NYC Parks tweeted out a minute-long video showing these majestic marine mammals enjoying a swim and hunting for fish in the Bronx River’s Starlight Park.
The video, now seen more than 2.7 million times, has many celebrating the restoration efforts that have allowed these animals to return.
It’s true—dolphins were spotted in the Bronx River this week! This is great news—it shows that the decades-long effort to restore the river as a healthy habitat is working. We believe these dolphins naturally found their way to the river in search of fish.— NYC Parks (@NYCParks) January 19, 2023
(Video: Nick Banco) pic.twitter.com/40ZNgBjJZs
Even New York Mayor Eric Adams has lauded their return, jokingly asserting in a press conference: “That’s the future of our city: more dolphins, fewer rats.”
Dolphins are a rare sight in New York because of the ongoing pollution of its waterways. Industrial waste, specifically oil and fertilizers, used to pour into the rivers, keeping animals like dolphins away.
But thanks to the successful endeavors to clean up New York’s rivers, dolphin sightings are becoming more common.
“This is great news,” The New York City Department of Parks & Recreation tweeted. “It shows that the decades-long effort to restore the river as a healthy habitat is working.”
The pair of dolphins spotted this January were not the first to return to the Empire City in recent years. The same month, another pair were seen swimming along the Whale Creek Tributary in Brooklyn.
Of course, it’s wonderful that New York’s waterways are clean enough to support diverse marine life. But that may not be the only reason why we’re learning about dolphins’ return to NYC.
Interestingly, scientists working for the Wildlife Conservation Society have been meticulously tracking New York City’s bottlenose dolphins by implanting underwater microphones to monitor these mammals that communicate through a delightful combination of clicks and whistles.
Understanding the movement of large marine animals like dolphins is critical to conservation planning and informing environmental policy. And, policy aside, the return of these intelligent sea creatures is certainly something to celebrate. With cleaner rivers, more celebrations and clicking noises are likely to come.