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Dolphin trapped on Mill River in East Rockaway

Rolling River Day Camp staffers, attendees spot marine animal


Campers at Rolling River Day Camp have been getting a rare glimpse of something unexpected this week as a dolphin has been trapped on Mill River in East Rockaway.

“They’ve definitely been really surprised,” Director Marissa Goodman Allaben said of her campers. “We have a popular boating program, so we go out on the boats a lot and see a lot of marine life and birds, but a dolphin in our river is definitely a first time occurrence.”

Goodman Allaben said that on Monday, one of her campers told her that he was kayaking on Mill River over the weekend and spotted the 5-foot dolphin. It was later determined that during high tide, the dolphin went under the East Rockaway Long Island Rail Road station bridge into Mill River, but the water level has not risen again, so it is now stuck there.

On Monday, camp administrators kayaked out to assess the situation and placed calls to wildlife conservation and rescue organizations, including the New York Marine Rescue Center, which have continued to monitor the dolphin. Goodman Allaben said that the experts told her that the dolphin appears healthy, and that attempting to rescue or move it could cause more harm than letting it find its way back to the ocean in time. They are now waiting to see if the dolphin will be able to return to the ocean on its own, she added.

For now, the marine mammal is a popular fixture in Mill River for the Rolling River Day Camp attendees. Though the group was scaled down from the usual 600 campers to 300 in order to adhere to coronavirus guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the state’s Department of Health, Goodman Allaben said her campers have been enthusiastic, especially about their new marine friend. However, administrators are taking a cautious approach to not disturbing the dolphin, including banning the use of motorized boats near it.

“The campers have been excited and have been trying to spot it throughout the day,” she said, “but at the same time, as a camp, we want to make sure we’re doing our best not to injure or disturb the dolphin. It’s been a special week at camp for all of our campers and staff to have such a rare sighting in our river.”