One of the two dolphins that were in distress near...

One of the two dolphins that were in distress near Inwood Park is seen inside a rescue van.  Credit: Inwood Fire Department

A malnourished and severely dehydrated adult female dolphin had to be euthanized Sunday evening after officials said she wandered into a small, shallow creek in Inwood with her calf and became stranded on a mud flat.

The calf, whose gender and age are not known, was able to make its way back to open water, officials said.

A spokeswoman for the New York Marine Rescue Center in Riverhead, Maxine Montello said the pair was first seen Wednesday in Jamaica Bay in the vicinity of the Cross Bay Veterans Memorial Bridge and the South Channel Subway Bridge between Broad Channel and the Rockaways.

Rescuers from the Marine Rescue Center were notified Sunday the two had passed through the Joseph Sanford Jr. Channel and were in shallow waters near Inwood Marina.

“We believe it was a mom and calf, but luckily we know the calf was no longer dependent — because [it] was not nursing,” Montello said.

“Originally, the pair was a lot closer to the channel bridge and were free-swimming, with no concerns,” she said. “But Sunday, we were notified the pair was in this low creek and the problem was at low tide there is no water.” 

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said in a statement that rescuers from the Marine Rescue Center, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and Inwood Fire Department tried to herd the mother and calf out of the creek, but the mother instead got stranded when the tide receded.

Montello said rescuers placed the stranded dolphin in a netted harness attached to a Zodiac inflatable rescue boat and later into a mobile medical van.

After determining she was “severely dehydrated, as well as malnourished” — and, following an assessment made, NOAA Fisheries said, in conjunction with the Atlantic Marine Conservation Society — the decision was made to euthanize the mother. A necropsy is pending.

Officials said the pair were Risso’s dolphins which, according to NOAA Fisheries, are also known as gray dolphins. On its website, NOAA Fisheries said Risso’s dolphins can be found in pods of up to 30 or more in “temperate and tropical zones” across all oceans.

Risso’s dolphins are known to live more than 35 years, can grow to 13 feet and can weigh 1,100 pounds. It is not uncommon for them to be found in shallower waters closer to shore.

Montello asked that those who see a dolphin report the sighting at 631-369-9829.

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