Dolphins, which used to be residents of the Potomac river in the 19th century, returned to the D.C. area’s vital body of water, following recovery efforts, The Washington Post reported.
Approximately 1,000 bottlenose dolphins have been spotted living and mating in the Potomac river this year. And one of them is even thought to have given birth in August.
Starting from the 1960s, the river became contaminated by algae, trash and human waste, causing it to lose its natural inhabitants, including dolphins and bald eagles –our national symbol– that lived on its shores.
As a result of the cleaning process that kicked off 50 years ago, around 200 dolphins were observed in 2015 by researchers from Georgetown University’s Potomac-Chesapeake Dolphin Project, and the number of dolphins seen hit 1,000 this year, which come together in groups of 200, according to The Post.
When I grew up on the Potomac, it was considered a dirty river. Today, thanks to the leadership of so many people and agencies over the years, it is clean enough that dolphins are thriving. @karinbrulliard https://t.co/vNzTSGy8YU
— Peter Baker (@peterbakernyt) October 2, 2019
“People actually forgot that there were dolphins in the river because they hadn’t been seen since the 1880s and because the river was in poor condition, people weren’t seeing them,” Melissa Diemand, spokesperson for Potomac Conservancy told NBC4.
In August, Ann-Marie Jacoby, the assistant director of the Potomac-Chesapeake Dolphin Project, observed what she thought was the evidence of a dolphin birth. While she was following a group of 50 dolphins near Lewisetta, Virginia, she saw “a cloud of blood and shortly afterward a small calf with a ‘slightly bent and wobbly fin’ surfaced and then swam alongside its mother,” according to a Potomac Conservancy blog post.
Since she does not have an underwater video documenting the event, Jacoby is cautious about stating that she witnessed a birth, however, it is considered to be highly likely a dolphin birth that took place in the Potomac.