2015-09-17 / Nature

Dolphins Cruise in the Harbor

By Jack Kelly


(Photo by Chris Papp) (Photo by Chris Papp) Chris Papp, Rose Island Property manager, recently had a unique experience on his morning commute across Newport Harbor. A pod of dolphins, numbering about 30, escorted Papp’s vessel as he traversed the route to the island. The dolphins seemed to race Papp’s boat and rode the bow wave.

Robert Kenney, Ph.D., a marine research scientist and professor at the University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Oceanography, identified the playful marine mammals as common dolphins. “They are the most likely dolphin species to show up in the bay, along with Atlantic white-sided dolphins," he reported.

Common dolphins live in warmtemperate and tropical waters and range in size from six to eight feet, weighing in between 180 and 330 pounds. Males of the species are longer and heavier. This breed is highly social and may form pods numbering in the hundreds or even thousands. Large pods have a hierarchy of elders to keep order, and the dolphins are grouped in subpods of possibly related family members.

Common dolphins feed on a variety of fish and squid, and may have pursued prey into Narragansett Bay when they ran across Papp. Whatever the reason, it was a pleasant surprise for folks who were on hand to watch the antics of these sleek marine creatures as they cruised the bay.

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