BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A surprise no one was expecting. It turns out hundreds of dolphins are making their way into the Chesapeake Bay and its rivers.
Alex DeMetrick reports, the discovery was made while scientists were doing a routing equipment check.
Last June, where the Patuxent River meets the bay, Dr. Helen Bailey with the University of Maryland’s Center for Environmental Science, was checking equipment when the unexpected happened.
“We had been putting our hydrophones to test them off the pier, and then we discovered we were detecting dolphins, very, very frequently during the summer months,” she says.
“Whistles and click and squeaks. Dolphins are very, very vocal.”
Those sounds got other researchers looking, documenting at least 500 dolphins in the bay and its tributaries.
Meaning “there could be over 1,000 dolphins, or 10 percent of the population probably occurring in the bay.”
That population group of dolphins migrates past Ocean City in the summer, numbering 10,000 or more. They usually bypass the bay.
“There were occasional visitors, fairly rare, but now we’re getting frequent sightings,” according to Bailey. “Even last weekend, I’ve had 10 reports of dolphin sightings across the bay.”
As to why the dolphins are here, there is a theory.
“Most likely they’re coming in to feed, so perhaps as a result of improve water quality and the healthy fish stocks, we’re not seeing dolphins attracted more to the bay,” Bailey says.
The University of Maryland would like the public to report dolphin sightings. A website has been set up to do so: ChesapeakeDolphinWatch.org.