The Atlantic Marine Conservation Society recently encountered something on Long Island that is not often seen: a dolphin washing ashore from the Great South Bay.
And especially not a Risso’s dolphin, a species of dolphin that inhabits deep, offshore waters.
The Hampton Bays-based nonprofit saw just that last weekend when they were called to Heckscher State Park after someone discovered a lifeless Risso’s dolphin calf along the shoreline in East Islip.
While dolphins along Long Island’s ocean beaches are common, finding one in the bay is a rare sight.
“While it is not completely uncommon to find a Risso’s dolphin in New York waters, we typically don’t encounter them inshore,” AMCS said in a Facebook post on Friday. “These animals generally prefer open ocean habitats in deeper, offshore waters, such as those near the continental shelf edge, where they can better demonstrate their talent for deep diving.”
The Risso’s dolphin is known to be an exceptional deep diver, capable of descending to depths of 1,000 feet or more, the group said.
The AMCS identified this dolphin as young due to its size and coloration, noting: “Adult Risso’s are typically 8.5-13 feet in length, while this animal only measured about 6.5 feet long. The coloration is also a significant indicator of age, as calves are often dark in color with little to no scarring on their bodies (like the one pictured here).”
If you come across any stranded marine animal, the group urges you to call its NYS Stranding Hotline at 631-369-9829.
Top: Photo of the 6.5-foot-long Risso’s dolphin that washed ashore at Heckscher State Park in East Islip. (Credit: Atlantic Marine Conservation Society/ Facebook)