Father and son William and Ryan Nelson were enjoying a stroll on the beach together with William’s yellow lab Gracie on Sunday afternoon when they came upon a not-so-beautiful Valentine’s Day “gift” from the sea. The two men—dad from Hampton Bays and son visiting from Brooklyn—were surprised to find a dead dolphin that had washed ashore “between the main beach parking area and the second, sandy parking area if you make a right coming down off the bridge.”
The Nelsons did not report the dolphin, which had streaks of blood on its underside and a mouth sealed over with ice, but the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation retrieved the very same dolphin from Road K (the location described by the Nelsons) later that day.
While a necropsy is pending to determine the exact cause of death, a representative from the Riverhead Foundation said the dolphin is a 6.7-foot female weighing approximately 180 pounds. “She was notably skinny but with no evidence of injuries,” the representative said.
The dolphin has been placed in a freezer at the Riverhead Foundation to await a necropsy at a later time, most likely in March, the rep explained, adding, “Until the necropsy, we’re limited on information as to the cause of death, and also the age.”
Anyone who finds marine mammals such as seals, whales and dolphins, or sea turtles, on local beaches—dead or alive—should report them by calling the Riverhead Foundation’s 24-hour stranding hotline at 631-369-9829 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Do not approach beached animals or try to return them to the water yourself. Close proximity to humans can be dangerous and cause undue stress for the animals, and returning to the water may do more harm than good. Dead marine mammals may also be harmful to touch (watch that nose, Gracie!), so it’s best leave all interactions with them to the professionals.
For more info about the Riverhead Foundation, visit riverheadfoundation.org.