Dolphins are finally breeding in DC's Potomac River but it's not because of Covid-19 lockdown
The capital of the United States, Washington DC is located on the banks of the Potomac River. A river that in the 1960s was known as one of the most polluted rivers in America, has since then had five decades of clean up initiatives including the Clean Water Act in 1972, followed by the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Chesapeake Bay Program in 1983, and now it seems one major resident has returned to the river.
Scientists have noted a massive increase in common bottlenose dolphins in the lower portion of the Potomac River. But even more exciting, scientists have documents the first dolphin giving birth in the river as well.
The Smithsonian magazine reported that in August 2019, researchers witnessed a dolphin giving birth in the river. It was one of only three times scientists have seen a bottlenose dolphin giving birth in the wild anywhere, reports Briullard.
“There are a lot of dolphins here,” Ann-Marie Jacoby, associate director of the Potomac-Chesapeake Dolphin Project said to Washington Post. “Since 2015, we have identified over 1,000 animals, and about 30 percent of those we see year after year. So, it suggests that they’re coming back to this area, they’re using it.”
However, researchers witnessing a dolphin birth is extremely rare.
“At first, I was very alarmed by the cloud of blood, but there were no apparent signs of injury or predation – the dolphins were just traveling down the river,” Jacoby told Georgetown.edu. “I ran through the possible reasons for the blood and told my team to look out for an extremely small newborn. Lo and behold, a mom with a newborn, whose fin was still slightly bent, surfaced in front of and in line with the cloud of blood.”
“At that point, I was beyond excited, because it very likely had been born recently and in the Potomac. To me, it’s the most compelling evidence we have to date that dolphins are coming into the Potomac River to give birth, which is amazing.”