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Aquatic Life Meets Urban Jungle

9th April 2013

Last month, a bottlenose dolphin was spotted in New York City’s East River at 96th Street.

Yesterday, several dolphins were spotted in the Hudson River near Inwood Hill Park. They then headed up towards the George Washington Bridge.

Why are they here now? What does this say about our waterways? With so many dolphin sightings, could this be the new normal for this urban setting? Perhaps our waters here are not as polluted as we once thought…

In Heartbeats in the Muck: The History, Sea Life, and Environment of New York Harbor, Revised Edition, author John Waldman, talks about the incredibly rich and biologically diverse ecosystem that exists in New York Harbor and its surrounding waterways.

In the broadest sense life is the user of water and habitat, and thus life is the great indicator of water quality and habitat suitability and “how the harbor is doing.” And the news concerning life in the harbor is cause for optimism—I remain bullish. Sea turtles have been spotted in the Verrazano Narrows and the East River. A pair of bottle-nosed dolphins were seen near the Tappan Zee Bridge, and a “Florida” manatee swam up the East River. Harbor seals were sighted on Belmont Island and on Robbins Reef where they were common three hundred years ago; they’ve also been seen in Newark Bay, and in the Hudson near Hoboken, Yonkers, and Tarrytown, where they’ve bitten off the heads of shad caught in gill nets. READ MORE

The Hudson River and the NYC Watershed are healthy ecosystems teeming with life. Residents and visitors care for and help protect these ecosystems, which provide safe drinking water and abundant opportunities for swimming, fishing, boating and other recreational activities. Visit to find out more.

John Waldman is Professor of Biology at Queens College, City University of New York. He is recipient of the New York Society Library Award in Natural History and the Norcross Wildlife Conservation Award and is an occasional contributor to the New York Times and other periodicals. He is also the author of Still the Same Hawk: Reflections on Nature and New York (Fordham University Press).

Related Links:
Keep the Clean Water Act Strong

Beczak Environmental Education Center

My Neighborhood: Hudson River is Bob Walters’ Backyard