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Dolphin seen swimming near Astoria

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The dolphin delighted several Astoria residents walking along Shore Boulevard Friday afternoon. Photo by Christina Santucci
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The bottlenose dolphin has been spotted in the East River for the past several days. Photo by Christina Santucci
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The bottlenose dolphin pops its head out of the water in the East River near Astoria. Photo by Christina Santucci
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The dolphin swims close to Queens with Randall's Island in the background. Photo by Christina Santucci
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The mammal's tail splashes the water as it dives back down. Photo by Christina Santucci

A bottlenose dolphin has been sighted swimming in the East River since Wednesday, but Friday marked the first time the marine mammal came to Queens.

Rob DiGiovanni, the foundation director and senior biologist at the Riverhead Foundation in Riverhead, L.I., said his organization received calls about the dolphin swimming about 20 yards offshore near Astoria at around 4:30 p.m. The dolphin originally showed up on the Manhattan side Wednesday and the nonprofit, which protects marine animals, has been watching its movements.

“What we know from talking to local people who have seen it is it is on the east side of the East River,” DiGiovanni said. “We are still monitoring the situation.”

DiGiovanni said while dolphins are becoming a more common sight in the East River and along the South Shore of Long Island and the Long Island Sound compared to 20 years ago, the organization has not had the funding to do greater research into why the dolphins visit the New York shores. The dolphins usually leave within a few days.

“What draws them into the river would only be speculation,” he said.

He encouraged the public to call the Riverhead Foundation’s hotline at 631-369-9829 to report what they have seen of the dolphin’s movements. But he warned the public not to try to touch or feed the dolphin, which is illegal.

“The public have definitely been helpful for keeping an eye out for what’s there,” DiGiovanni said.

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at rhenely@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.

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