Dolphins Spotted in Bronx River and Researchers are Flipping Out

By: Genna Rippeon

Plagued with a dark history of pollution, The Bronx River sits at about 24 miles long, flowing through southeast New York. This notion was challenged, however, on Monday, Jan. 16, when a pair of dolphins were spotted in the river — a wonderful sign for the city that the river’s poor health is improving. 

The Bronx River’s “River Alliance” was ecstatic to hear dolphins had been spotted in the river. On Jan. 19 they tweeted, “It’s true-dolphins were spotted in the Bronx River this week! This is great news-it shows the decades-long effort to restore the river as a healthy habitat is working” (@BxRiverAlliance).

The organization has been working toward the river’s restoration for many years. They implement projects such as working to remove invasive species and cleaning up pollution in addition to hosting many volunteer opportunities for people in the community to assist in the restoration. 

“The presence of dolphins in the Bronx River is a positive indicator of the waterway’s improving condition after it was used for many years as an industrial waste sewage system,” says Mt. Hebron sophomore Colin Parkinson. 

If these restoration efforts continue to work, the health of the river will only improve. This means more natural wildlife, less pollution, and a healthier environment for the community that lives around the river. 

“Pollution negatively impacts the wildlife around us by disturbing flourishing ecosystems in our waterways and forests which makes species become more vulnerable due to the destruction of their habitat,” says Parkinson. 

In the local Chesapeake Bay, pollution has become a major problem over the years. As the largest estuary in the United States, the Bay is located on the coasts of Maryland and Virginia. 

The Bay’s poor health can be attributed to agricultural runoff, air pollution, invasive species and many more issues regarding pollution from humans. These cause problems for many animals that call The Bay home, such as the bald eagle, blue crabs, and oysters.

Sitting at the head of the Chesapeake Bay in Cecil County, Maryland, is NorthBay Adventure Camp which hosts retreats teaching the importance of keeping our Bay healthy. The staff gives lessons on The Bay’s natural species all while team building within retreat groups. According to their website, the program has been successful in increasing “environmental intention to action.” 

As seen in the Bronx River, their volunteer clean-up efforts have proven to work. In the Chesapeake Bay, volunteer opportunities could help speed up the healing process and provide volunteer opportunities for middle and high school students. 

Dolphins in the Bronx River are a hopeful sign for residents and animals of New York, and for polluted rivers everywhere — even here in Ellicott City.

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