Fireislandandbeyond.com is thrilled to have Dr. Artie Kopelman as a contributor. Artie has been studying, monitoring, and photographing marine mammals off the coast of Long Island for over 30 years.
Through his work as President of CRESLI and as a Full Professor of Science at The State University of New York, Artie has built up a wealth of knowledge and fantastic library of images of the Marine Mammals and Seals that ply our local waters.
Artie has been kind enough to share some of his images and insights with Fireislandandbeyond.com.
First up and most commonly seen, even from our local beaches, are Dolphins.
There are actually 2 species often encountered, the Short-Beaked Common Dolphin (Delphinus delphis) and the Bottlenose Dolphin (Tursiops truncatus).
These are protected species, but not endangered. Both are social species, i.e., they live in relatively stable social groups, which range to around 20 individuals.
Often, social groups join with others to form aggregations of score to hundreds, or super aggregations of hundreds to thousands.
There are about 174,000 short-beaked common dolphins in the Western North Atlantic. While there are many different identified populations of bottlenose dolphins, the 2 that are most commonly seen off Montauk and Fire Island are the “offshore” ones (~77,000 in the Western North Atlantic) and the “inshore” (~11,500 in the Western North Atlantic, northern migratory coastal population).
Prior to 2009, the “inshore” population was rarely seen north of New Jersey, but since then has become more frequently seen.
If you ever want to see these beautiful creatures in person, Artie has been the on board naturalist and chief scientist on the Viking Fleet Whale Watching trips out of Montauk for the last 25 years.
They have already wrapped up after another banner season but will be starting up again next July!