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Dolphin stranded in Southold creek euthanized Thursday

An adult dolphin that became stranded on the shoreline off Jockey Creek in Southold was euthanized Thursday, according to Charles Bowman, the chair of the board of directors for the Riverhead-based New York Marine Rescue Center.

A second sub-adult dolphin that had been seen with the adult Wednesday remains unaccounted for as of Friday, Mr. Bowman said.

“The other one is still out there,” he said. “It hasn’t been seen.”

The New York Marine Rescue Center, formerly known as the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation, was called to the scene after a Southold Town Bay Constable saw the two dolphins Wednesday, Mr. Bowman said.

“We are under contract with the State of New York and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, wherein we are the only organizations allowed to respond to strandings of marine mammals, dolphins, seals and sea turtles in the state of New York,” Mr. Bowman said. 

With a storm on the horizon, and with COVID “putting a damper on putting our staff together, there wasn’t much rescuers could do,” he said. “We couldn’t put people in the water in a snowstorm.”

Mr. Bowman said there have been dolphins stranded in places like Northwest Creek in East Hampton, but this was a little late in the season.

“We usually see them in December, so this is a little late,” he said. “Hopefully the other one got out.”

He said they had no choice but to euthanize the adult dolphin, which was ill. There’s no facility on the East Coast capable of rehabbing dolphins, he said, and they typically don’t do well in captivity.

“One of the dolphins stranded on Thursday morning and was humanly euthanized,” said Maxine Montello, the rescue group’s rescue program director.

“The animal was underweight and in poor health. The necropsy will be conducted this week .We have not seen the second animal since Wednesday night. “

This dolphin was what is known as a common dolphin, which usually grow to about 6 feet long, Mr. Bowman said.

He said they don’t yet know what caused the dolphin to strand itself.

In 2014, a common dolphin that died was found washed up in the nearby Goose Creek in Southold. Researchers determined that dolphin died of natural causes.

Dolphins swim near Bug Light off Orient in August, affording passengers on the sailing charter Layla and others a rare photo opportunity. (Credit: Liz Gilloly)