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Dolphin Found Dead in Hudson River Put on Ice Awaiting Cause of Death

By Mathew Katz | June 27, 2012 8:01am
Staff from the Riverhead Foundation take the deceased dolphin from Chelsea Piers to their truck.
Staff from the Riverhead Foundation take the deceased dolphin from Chelsea Piers to their truck.
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DNAinfo/Mathew Katz

CHELSEA — A dolphin found dead in the Hudson River at Chelsea Piers last week has been in deep freeze for nearly a week on Long Island while waiting for researchers to determine the cause of death. 

The Long Island-based Riverhead Foundation, which deals with marine animal research, rescue, and preservation, recovered the body from Pier 59 after it was discovered Thursday, but biologists there have yet to find the time to perform a necropsy to determine what killed it.

"He was in pretty bad shape, so we put it in the freezer," said Kim Durham, a biologist with the organization. "We're going to thaw him out at the end of the week and hopefully perform it next week."

Durham added that it would likely be impossible to fully determine if the common dolphin found at Chelsea Piers was the same animal spotted swimming in the Hudson from Harlem to Chelsea on June 17.

"It likely is," she said. "I don't know how many other dolphins would be there."

Researchers had originally believed that dolphin to be a bottlenose, but Durham said it could easily have been a common dolphin given the low quality of the images provided to the organization.

The tell-tale sign of the dolphin type — the dorsal fin — is no longer intact in the frozen corpse.

"Unfortunately, the animal's degraded — there's no bones in the fin — it didn't retain its shape," Durham said.

"The only way we would have identified it is gone."

Neither type, she said, should be splashing around the Hudson River unless something is wrong with it.

Anyone who sees a dolphin or other marine animal in the New York area should immediately contact the foundation's 24-hour stranding hotline at 631-369-9829, Durham added.