NYC rivers are now home to dolphins as water levels have improved since the Civil War


Dolphin pods spotted in New York City’s East and Hudson Rivers as waters are now cleaner than at any point since the Civil War, experts say

  • Dolphin sightings are increasing in New York City’s waterways as clean-up efforts to remove pollutants prove successful
  • The river water is the cleanest it’s been since the Civil War, according to environmental experts 
  • The harbor is the cleanest it’s been in the last 100 years, and has seen an 80 percent reduction in sewer overflows since the mid-1980s 
  • The more than 300 mile long Hudson River has been plagued by toxic chemicals and bacteria that killed off millions of species and food supply chains
  • Efforts to reverse the damage and once again make the riverbed safe for sea life have been ongoing since the 1960s

Dolphins are making their way into the iconic New York skyline as the city’s rivers are now cleaner than at any point since the Civil War, according to environmental experts. 

Anthony Obas, a Harlem resident, was lingering along the East River at the lower Manhattan waterfront when he saw a dolphin appear, The Wall Street Journal reported.

‘I was like, that’s a dolphin,’ he told the paper. ‘Oh no! In the dirtiest river in New York?’ 

Recent improvements in the city’s water, however, have made the waterways safer for dolphins and their food supply, and in turn increased sightings of the aquatic mammals, scientists say.

‘The harbor and connected waterways are cleaner today than they have been since the Civil War,’ NYC Environmental Protection spokesperson Ted Timbers told Dailymail.com.

Photos from Gotham Whale show dolphins leaping out of the water in front of the New York City skyline

Photos from Gotham Whale show dolphins leaping out of the water in front of the New York City skyline

Dolphin sightings have been increasing in New York City rivers as the water is claimed to be as clean as before the Civil War

Dolphin sightings have been increasing in New York City rivers as the water is claimed to be as clean as before the Civil War 

The river waters are tested regularly to compare the cleanliness of the waterways to previous years

‘The Hudson is generally more difficult for the mammals to make their way through due to off-shore wind developments and vessels – but more sightings have occurred in the East River,’ Timbers said.

The aquatic mammals typically flee towards New York City’s water during the warmer months between spring and fall for feeding season, according to the Wildlife Conservation Society.   

 To keep water safe, a nearly $50 billion project dating back to the mid 1980’s is an ongoing investment to reduce the amount of pollution that gets discharged into the water ways. 

To sustain and improve the water, scientist are testing its health regularly to compare how much cleaner the waterways have become – made possible through a portion of funds from state water bills. 

The harbor is the cleanest it’s been in the last 100 years, and there has been an 80 percent reduction in sewer overflows since the mid-1980s. 

 The improvement has resulted in an uptick of dolphins and their main source of food – bunker fish or menhaden. 

While there are several hypothesis about why dolphins may be increasing in the area, it’s expected that the increase in menhaden might be the key, according to Sarah Trabue, a WCS research assistant. 

‘This is supported by our finding that dolphins were foraging in the majority of days that they were present in the New York-New Jersey Harbor Estuary, which suggests that this area serves as a feeding ground for the migratory population of dolphins that use these waters from spring to fall each year,’ Trabue said.  

Fishing regulations implemented over the past few years have also prevented overfishing of menhaden – a staple food choice in the mammal’s diet. 

The rivers used to be some of the dirtiest, but are now mostly cleansed of the toxic chemicals and pollutants it absorbed in the past

The rivers used to be some of the dirtiest, but are now mostly cleansed of the toxic chemicals and pollutants it absorbed in the past

Trabue also suggested that the big ticket effort to restore the quality of the habitat in the rivers is drawing in the marine mammals.

The Hudson River, which stretches more than 300 miles past the tip of Manhattan, is home more than 200 species of fish and a variety of birds feeding from it’s waters. 

The condition of the water has gone downhill as the city’s population has increased – and abused the river’s natural resources, according to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation

The Hudson also experienced an increase in sewage – making the river vulnerable to bacteria and toxic chemicals that killed off millions of species and their food. 

A 2020 photo displays the river at one of its worst times for a sustainable habitat

A 2020 photo displays the river at one of its worst times for a sustainable habitat

Efforts to preserve and clean up the water way, which naturally splits New Jersey and New York, began in the 1960s – prompting a sewage cleanup act known as the 1972 Clean Water Act. 

In May, the Clean Water Act turned 50 – triggering environmental studies of the Hudson to be conducted. 

Data showed that ‘about 80% of samples taken from the Hudson meet Environmental Protection Agency criteria for safe recreation,’ according to a study conducted by the environmental advocacy group Riverkeeper

‘If these samples were taken at public beaches, the beach would be open for swimming,’ Riverkeeper explained, adding, ‘which is essential, given that people swim not only at the Hudson’s few public beaches, but at dozens of shoreline access points.’

‘Is 80% good enough? No. Is it better than 50 years ago? Certainly. Many of the Hudson River’s tributaries, and many New York City shoreline locations, are far, far riskier.’

Source

Related posts