Update: Dolphin found dead in East Hampton town

03/06/2012 9:43 PM |

DON BINDLER PHOTO | Dolphin close to shoreline in the shallows of West Neck Bay Sunday afternoon.

A common dolphin that had been spotted swimming in West Neck Bay on Shelter Island was found dead on Cedar Point in East Hampton, according to Julika Wocial, Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation supervisor.

Further details will be reported as they become available.

The dolphin had been spotted on Shelter Island two days ago swimming in a tiny cove area in the northwest corner of the waterway.

The foundation’s rescue unit arrived on the scene about 11 a.m., initially determining that the animal didn’t appear to be in distress. But there were concerns about it beaching itself in the shallows, especially during low tide, Ms. Wocial said. The team remained on the scene for more than 6 1/2 hours.

About 3:15 p.m., after the tide rose, the dolphin approached the deepest part of the cove and “that was good,” Ms. Wocial said. But she still had concerns that it was staying close to the shore and “I started to get a little nervous.”

She and team members donned dry suits and prepared to enter the water when the dolphin swam out and headed for deeper water in West Neck Bay.

Police and Shelter Island residents helped the team to ride around to various areas around the bay so the team could monitor the animal’s progress, Ms. Wocial said. Islanders not only provided rides around the bay but also gave the rescue team food and drinks, she said.

“I could wish all my dolphin rescues were around Shelter Island,” she said, crediting the cooperation of police and residents with making the job easier.

When last sighted before darkness Sunday night, the animal was in deeper water and appeared to be jumping and diving and making sharp turns consistent with feeding behavior, Ms. Wocial said.

State forest ranger Brian McAllister and Shelter Island Police continued to monitor West Neck Bay Monday morning and by midday had made no new sightings of the dolphin, leading Ms. Wocial to speculate that the animal had moved out to sea.

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