05/30/15 9:07am
05/30/2015 9:07 AM
Tucker heads for the water Friday. (Credit: Nicole Smith)

Tucker heads for the water Friday. (Credit: Nicole Smith)

After a trip to Atlantis Marine World in Riverhead, sixth graders Maddie Hansen, 11, and Abby Seifert, 12, felt inspired after seeing the foundation help animals.

Their efforts helped lead to Tucker, a seal found in East Quogue, to be rereleased into the water.

Read more about their efforts on northforker.com.

01/20/14 1:23pm
01/20/2014 1:23 PM
SUSAN SMITH PHOTO | The male dolphin swimming at the eastern end of Goose Creek on Jan. 3, nine days before it was found dead.

SUSAN SMITH PHOTO | The male dolphin swimming at the eastern end of Goose Creek on Jan. 3, nine days before it was found dead on the western end of the creek.

The wayward dolphin that turned up dead in Goose Creek last week died of natural causes, researchers have ruled.

The male common dolphin, whose body was found Sunday, Jan. 12, toward the western end of the shallow Southold creek, is also believed to have been the same animal spotted swimming near the creek’s eastern end, on Jan. 3.

RICK HALL PHOTO | The dolphin's carcass washed up along a small island.

RICK HALL PHOTO | The dolphin washed up along a small island on the eastern end of Goose Creek.

“Findings from the necropsy yielded evidence of malnourishment,” said Kim Durham, rescue program director at the Riverhead Foundation, which recovered the carcass with the help of police last Monday.

“The wear pattern on the teeth indicated advanced age,” Ms. Durham continued. “The examination did not find any evidence of marine debris or evidence of fisheries or ship strike.  The death of this individual was ruled to be a natural mortality event. ”

Ms. Durham said biologists also took tissue samples to rule out viral infection.

Southold resident Susan Smith and her husband Justin had spotted the dolphin alive and swimming in Goose Creek on Friday, Jan. 3, and alerted the Riverhead Foundation, which mounted a response but could not locate the animal.

“We watched it for a while and took some photos but it was 10 degrees out and when we turned to go to the car, we looked back and it was gone,” Ms. Smith said. “It was swimming back and forth right in front of the houses and the bridge. He looked fine to me. We are very sorry to see that he has died.”

The carcass was spotted Sunday, Jan. 12, by a kayaker, Southold chiropractor Rick Hall. Dr. Hall snapped photos of the carcass before alerting the Riverhead Foundation, which recovered it the next day and brought it to the organization’s headquarters in downtown Riverhead.

“This individual was originally reported alive to the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation hotline number on Jan. 3, 2014,” Ms. Durham also said Sunday. She had stated days earlier that she couldn’t say for sure if the animal reported Jan. 3 was the one later found dead.

Ms. Durham had said common dolphins usually swim out at sea and in groups, so any one dolphin by itself is always cause for concern.

“When we get reports of a single dolphin in this area, it’s called an out-of-habitat sighting,” she said. “We would want to get eyes on the animal, observe how it’s swimming and try to assess it and see if it’s in trouble.”

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01/13/14 5:00pm
01/13/2014 5:00 PM
RICK HALL PHOTO | A dead dolphin found dead Sunday along a small island in the westernmost end of Goose Creek in Southold.

RICK HALL PHOTOS | A dead dolphin found dead Sunday along a small island in the westernmost end of Goose Creek in Southold.

Update: Riverhead Foundation rescue program director Kimberly Durham said a dolphin found dead Sunday in Southold has been recovered and positively identified as a common dolphin.

Biologists received help from Southold Police Department in reaching the carcass, Ms. Durham said.

A necropsy will be performed on the animal to determine a cause of death.

Original story: A dead dolphin was found washed up along an island in a shallow Southold creek Sunday.

Riverhead Foundation officials are asking for help from police in reaching the animal.

Riverhead Foundation officials are asking for help from police in reaching the animal.

The animal was spotted in Goose Creek about 3 p.m. by Rick Hall, a Southold chiropractor and avid outdoorsman who said he’s never seen a dolphin in local waters in his 50 years of canoeing and kayaking the area.

Seagulls and crows had surrounded the dolphin and were pecking at it when he came upon the marine mammal while kayaking, he said.

“It didn’t smell,” Dr. Hall said. “The body was in excellent shape other than the eyes were taken out by the seagulls. The birds were pecking at it but hadn’t penetrated its body.”

The Riverhead Foundation rescue group has been alerted and is trying to coordinate with police to recover the carcass, since it’s not reachable by land, said Kimberly Durham, rescue program director for the marine research and rescue organization.

The foundation also received reports on Friday, Jan. 3, of a live dolphin in the same creek, Ms. Durham noted.

“We got a call for a live dolphin” close to the bridge in Goose Creek, she said. “We mounted a response to go and see what was going on. But it was gone when I arrived on scene. The animal was free swimming and had been observed beaching itself and thrashing on a sand bar.”

A photograph taken by a resident revealed that animal to be a common dolphin, which appeared to be an adult, she said.

She could not say if the dead dolphin found Sunday was the same animal.

The dead dolphin is on the shore of a small island on the westernmost end of Goose Creek, Dr. Hall said. The bridge is on the easternmost end.

“It’s probably just a youngster that got lost and got stranded on a sand bar and panicked and drowned,” he said. “I opened its mouth. I looked inside to make sure it didn’t choke on anything. It didn’t appear to. Its teeth were good.”

Ms. Durham said common dolphins usually swim out at sea and in groups, so any one dolphin by itself is always cause for concern.

“When we get reports of a single dolphin in this area, it’s called an out-of-habitat sighting,” she said. “We would want to get eyes on the animal, observe how it’s swimming and try to assess it and see if it’s in trouble.”

If foundation researchers are able to recover the carcass, a necropsy would reveal if the dolphin died of age or, for example, a parasite — and if any human interaction played a hand, such as in the case of marine debris, Ms. Durham said.

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Click on the map below to find Goose Creek.


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11/24/13 12:00pm
11/24/2013 12:00 PM
BILL PETERS PHOTO

BILL PETERS PHOTO

Five months ago, Penny was found stranded on the beach near the Sands Beach Club in Atlantic Beach, not even a week old with her mother nowhere in sight.

But on Saturday, the young seal pup returned home.

The Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation released the now 6-month-old rescued seal off Iron Pier beach as a crowd gathered to see her off. The foundation had nursed the seal, which was still dependent on its mother at the time of its rescue.

As a pup, Penny still needed the nutrients and high fat content that she would normally get from her mother’s milk. Penny was tube fed a special milk replacement formula that helped her gain weight.

The seal can now eat fish on its own and has grown to be a strong enough seal pup to be released, according to the Riverhead Foundation website.

[email protected]

11/18/13 9:00am
11/18/2013 9:00 AM

JIM COLLIGAN PHOTO | Two members of the New York State Mammal and Sea Turtle Rescue program examining a dead leatherback sea turtle at Miss Annie’s Creek in Mashomack.

A dead leatherback sea turtle washed up on a beach at Miss Annie’s Creek in the Mashomack Preserve on Shelter Island over the weekend.

Spotted by paddle boarder Richard Ruscica and hikers along the Green Trail on Saturday afternoon, Preserve Director Mike Laspia was contacted.

Mr. Laspia secured the turtle by rope to prevent it from washing back into the creek and contacted the New York State Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Rescue program at the Riverhead Foundation in Riverhead. An animal autopsy is scheduled for today to pinpoint the cause of death.

Leatherbacks are the largest turtles in the world, measuring up to seven feet and weighing up to 1,500 pounds. They can be found in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans. Although they feed in cool waters, they breed and lay eggs in the tropics.

Their primary diet consists of jellyfish, but almost a third of all leatherbacks have evidence of plastic bags in their stomachs and intestines.

08/21/13 8:00am
08/21/2013 8:00 AM
Riverhead Foundation Courtesy Photo | Roxanne and foundation volunteers during a physical at the Riverhead aquarium.

RIVERHEAD FOUNDATION COURTESY PHOTO | Roxanne and foundation volunteers during a physical.

A campaign to raise funds for the release of the Riverhead Foundation’s newest patient is making waves.

Roxanne, an adult Risso’s dolphin was rescued just south of Oak Beach on Jones Beach Island in Babylon June 6. The U.S. Coast Guard found her struggling from dehydration and gastric bleeding on a sand bar, according to officials from the non-profit.

Foundation volunteers transported Roxanne on a stretcher, loading the 9-foot, 600-pound dolphin into the back of a vehicle and brought her to her current home in Riverhead.

“Roxanne is now healthy and thriving,” according to the press release. “She eats over 75 pounds of squid each day, and interacts with staff along with her enrichment devices.”

Roxanne will need an 18 member team, a crane, a transport truck and a vessel to carry her back into ocean waters. She will also be fitted with a satellite tracking device in order to provide data on how she behaves after her release.

In all, about $35,000 is needed to completely fund her rehabilitation and release, according to a foundation spokeswoman.

Her story aired last Thursday night on WABC’s Channel 7 Eyewitness News, generating more than $4,500 in donations in the 24 hours following the broadcast.

The network included the hashtag #FreeRoxanne, which is now being used to spread Roxanne’s story on Facebook and Twitter.

More information about Roxanne can be found on her donation page, and a real-time view of her can be seen on the foundation’s website.

Foundation officials said they hope to release Roxanne in early September.

Riverhead Foundation Courtesy Photo | Roxanne in her tank at the Riverhead Aquarium.

RIVERHEAD FOUNDATION COURTESY PHOTO | Roxanne in her tank at the Riverhead Foundation.

08/09/13 5:00pm
08/09/2013 5:00 PM
COURTESY | Anchor, a Loggerhead sea turtle makes his way home to bay waters.

COURTESY | Anchor, a Loggerhead sea turtle making his way home to bay waters on Tuesday.

Eight endangered sea turtles waddled their way back into bay waters Tuesday, a record for the number turtles released in one day by caretakers at the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation.

The turtles were released into Hampton Bays waters at two separate times.

Seven Kemp’s Ridley turtles were released following rehabilitation after they were discovered cold stunned, or hypothermic, this winter.

COURTESY | Two of the Kemp's Ridleys sea turtles on their way home.

COURTESY | Two of the Kemp’s Ridleys sea turtles on their way home.

Kemp’s Ridleys are considered the smallest marine turtle in the world, growing between 24 and 28 inches long and weighing up to 100 pounds, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The Foundation also released a loggerhead sea turtle named Anchor that had been in rehabilitation since last August after swallowing a fish hook.

He was outfitted with a tracing device, so viewers can track his travels on the foundation’s website.

Loggerheads grow significantly larger than Kem’s Ridleys, to 3 feet in length and weighting up to 250 pounds, according to the NOAA.

According to the Foundation, the 2012-2013 winter season brought and “unprecedented number” of turtles to the Northeast, with more than 100 turtles needing rehabilitation from Virginia to Maine.

A total amount of rescues for the Riverhead Foundation group was not immediately available.

Because sea turtles are cold-blooded reptiles, they depend on external sources of heat to stay warm. During the winter’s cold temperatures, they must migrate to warmer waters.

COURTESY | A group of supporters look on as Anchor makes his way to the bay.

COURTESY | A group of supporters looked on as Anchor made his way to the bay.

06/10/13 10:00am
06/10/2013 10:00 AM
FACEBOOK PHOTO | Volunteers rescue a Risso's dolphin that became trapped on a sand bar near Oak Beach.

COURTESY PHOTO | Riverhead Foundation volunteers rescue a Risso’s dolphin that became trapped on a sand bar near Oak Beach.

Volunteers from the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation added two new creatures to its hospital last week after they rescued a trapped dolphin and a 3-to-5-day-old harbor seal pup.

The harbor seal pup was found struggling in the surf in Atlantic Beach, N.Y. last Saturday, it’s umbilical cord still attached. The nonprofit group is uncertain whether the pup, later named Penny, was abandoned by her mother or if the high volume of people on the beach kept her mother from returning to the pup.

Penny is currently being cared for at the Riverhead Foundation’s Rescue Hospital, located at the Long Island Aquarium and Exhibition Center in Riverhead. She is fed a formula containing ground fish, vitamins and milk replacement formula five times per day, at a cost of about $300 a day.

The 9 foot long, 600 pound Risso’s dolphin is swimming in the Riverhead Foundation’s Cetacean Rehabilitation Hospital.

On Thursday, the second animal was rescued. The group was called to Oak Beach, N.Y., where a 9-foot-long, 600-pound adult female Risso’s dolphin was stuck on a sandbar.

A volunteer rescue team was taken to the sandbar by a U.S. Coast Guard Fire Island vessel, and with their aid, successfully rescued the dolphin.

She is currently receiving medical care at the our facility and will shortly be eating about 80 pounds of squid per day, which will amount to over $200 per day in food costs alone!

You can check on the progress of these two animals by following the group on Facebook. The Riverhead Foundation has asked for donations to help pay for the animals’ medical costs and to keep the nonprofit “ready and able to come to the aid of all marine mammals and sea turtles in need.”