Dolphins are no stranger to New York City waters—in March of last year a trio of dolphins were spotted in the East River!
Now, a new study from Columbia University and Wildlife Conservation Society reveals that the waters between New York and New Jersey have become a frequently-visited dining hotspot by Bottlenose dolphins during the summer and autumn months.
Looking for food and the chance to socialize, these migratory animals return to the city’s harbor annually, and the findings from this and other studies can be used to help inform mitigation measures that can reduce human-wildlife conflict.
From 2018 to 2020 the team at WCS stationed underwater listening devices at six locations off Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, and New Jersey to study the the behavior of dolphin feeding times. Dolphins produce a series of rapid clicks called “foraging buzzes” which can reveal feeding activity, and through these buzzes researchers found that feeding was generally highest in late summer into autumn, though it peaked at different months at different sites.
Where dolphins are feeding, as well as the different peak times at feeding sites, can be effected by different variables such as water temperature, currents, and shipping activity.
Sarah Trabue of WCS’s Ocean Giants Program and the study’s lead author says, “By investigating how marine predators, such as bottlenose dolphins, are behaving within heavily urbanized ecosystems, we can gain insight on how these predators influence and are influenced by their environment, which can be used to guide conservation efforts, mitigation measures and best practice recommendations.”