Potomac River Dolphins: They Are Back!

Dolphins and their calves enjoying a summer day in the lower Potomac River. (Potomac Conservancy)

Health Editor’s Note: Sometimes humans get things right and it seems like the Potomac River is showing promising signs of this….Carol

Dolphins Are Finally Living and Breeding in the Potomac River Again

by Jason Daley Smithsonian.com

When George Washington chose to build his Mount Vernon estate along the Potomac River, he declared the then-pristine body of water “the nation’s river.” At the time, even dolphins were a common sight. In fact, as Karin Bruillard at the Washington Post reports, the porpoises were seen as far upriver as Alexandria, Virginia, in the 1840s.

But by the 1960s, the river that flows through the nation’s capital had lost its luster. Bald eagles—the national bird—struggled for survival on its shores. Dolphins had long since disappeared from its waters. The Potomac became overrun with algae, trash, human waste and pollutants. The nation’s river became a “national disgrace,” as President Lyndon Johnson called it at the time.

Now, after almost 50 years of pollution control, clean-up and restoration efforts, researchers have catalogued well over 1,000 bottlenose dolphins living, mating, and even giving birth in the lower reaches of the river.

“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 tells NBC4.

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  1. I hear the Snakeheads are good eating. My Thai friends told me, “once you’ve eaten a snakehead, you won’t want to eat another fish”. The Dolphins are feasting.

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