A short-beaked dolphin swam through the channel and into the river. So far, the dolphin is still healthy, but marine scientists want to lure it back into deep waters.
Peering over the edge and bicycling in to catch a glimpse — across East Rockaway and beyond, everyone is straining to see and hear.
“Well, we have little Free Willy here. Instead of a whale, we have a dolphin,” one woman said.
“I want him to stay healthy because he’s really cute,” one child said.
East Rockaway resident Andrew Miller took the first video and alerted the Department of Environmental Conservation.
“I dragged my kayak across the park and into the river and started paddling up, and there he was,” Miller told CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan.
The 5-foot long dolphin is stranded in Mill River, surfacing every so often to excite the East Rockaway neighborhood.
“At first I thought it was a tiny shark. When it hopped up more, it was actually a dolphin,” one boy said.
Nearby Rolling River Day Camp suspended boating activities.
“We just want to be protective and cautious and make sure that the propellers don’t hurt the animal,” said Rhonda Goodman, director of Rolling River Day Camp.
The dolphin may have been part of a pod caught on video by Tony Smith off the Rockaways, then gotten stranded meandering into the river at high tide, chasing fish.
“We don’t see any external injuries on the animal. It is exhibiting normal behavior,” said Maxine Montello, with New York Marine Rescue Center.
The only way for the dolphin to exit Mill River is underneath a train trestle, and right now, the water isn’t deep enough for that to happen.
“Common dolphins generally don’t do well under a stressful situation. So I think right now, what we’re trying to do is just observe the animal,” said Charles Bowman, with the Riverhead Foundation.
A team of marine experts may use kayaks in an attempt to lure it naturally back out to safe waters.
For now, the dolphin has enough food. The goal is to keep it calm, not get too close, and let the marine scientists help save its life.
A full moon arrives Aug. 3 so the tides should soon be increasing.