Dolphins frolic out of season off New York


NEW YORK (AP) – The Hamptons’ summer season traditionally doesn’t start until Memorial Day or later.

But tell that to the dolphins that have been visiting this week.

An estimated 40 of the marine mammals have been spotted in bays and harbors off East Hampton and Shelter Island in the past three days, surprising environmental experts and delighting residents who have flocked to watch them frolic.

Dolphins have been seen off Long Island before, but experts said the animals were usually fewer and their visits more fleeting.

Unseasonably warm water and robust schools of fish probably attracted the dolphins, said East Hampton Town natural resources director Larry Penny.

“Its very unusual to see this many of them in the bays and that they have stayed here this long,” said Kim Durham, director of the rescue program at the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation. The Riverhead, N.Y.-based organization aids stranded dolphins.

The foundation has used an underwater microphone to monitor the dolphins now off the Hamptons, to make sure they aren’t in any distress. Durham said they were “acting normally and healthy” so far.

Spectators gathered to watch the dolphins feed Wednesday in Northwest Harbor, off East Hampton Town. The marine mammals did not disappoint, sometimes moving close to shore and leaping wholly out of the water.

“We home-school my daughter, so today was like science class for her,” said Dan Loos, who lives near the harbor.

It was the latest weird-wildlife tale of a winter that has largely been uncommonly warm on Long Island’s south fork. Last month, a brown pelican – a bird rarely seen north of Maryland – found its way to Montauk. It was flown back to Florida.

Information from: The New York Times,

AP-ES-01-11-07 0643EST