Could the Hudson River Dolphin Have Been Saved?

hudson river dolphin sad Could the Hudson River Dolphin Have Been Saved?Here is an abject lesson in the dangers of premature joy. Often times—especially in New York City—what ostensibly appears to be a magical thing can turn out to be a terrible tragedy, before we’ve fully registered the implication of said joy. For example:

A dolphin is dead today.

Remember that adorable dolphin seen swimming the Hudson River on Sunday?

Like so many of the day-players who get filmed at Chelsea Piers on Law & Order as Cadaver #2, it has met its maker. As previously noted, DNAinfo reported:

A dead dolphin was found floating near Chelsea Piers Thursday morning, days after one was spotted swimming on the Hudson River, officials said. A spokeswoman for the Riverhead Foundation, which had been searching for the lone dolphin since it was seen in the Hudson Sunday evening, said it was too soon to say whether the dead dolphin was the same as the one that was spotted Sunday. “We won’t know if it’s the same dolphin until we match the dorsal fin,” said Kim Durham, spokeswoman for the foundation, which monitors marine mammals in New York. But sources said that it was highly likely, given the rarity of lone dolphins in the Hudson River.

Maybe if more people were not immediately overjoyed at the prospect of seeing a dolphin in the Hudson River—and who can blame them? Dolphins are wonderful!—and didn’t register that joy as their first thought, as opposed to “There is something seriously wrong with seeing something as majestic as a dolphin swimming in something as vile as the Hudson River,” and alerted the Riverhead Foundation Rescue Program sooner, maybe it could have been saved. Maybe if people reacted to this dolphin the same way they reacted to seeing a US Airways land in the Hudson, and alerted the Riverhead Foundation’s Rescue Program the same way they would have Tweeted about an airplane in the Hudson, or called 911, it may have lived to happily swim and bring itself, other dolphins, and possibly some humans who don’t live in a Gomorrah-esque metropolis some much-needed joy to their lives.

Did our—however tempered—happiness at seeing this dolphin kill it? Probably not. Is it being suggested that this writer’s colleague may have had a hand in the death of a beautiful, magnificent, noble, and harmless creature by not properly alerting the public in the foremost fashion possible of the eminent danger it was in, instead of exploiting it for a moment of joy? Of course not. The colleague in question has gone on record as a friend of dolphin-kind, and no doubt, her intentions were not malicious.

But maybe we should all pause a moment, and consider the fate of this dolphin, and anything else we see in the Hudson that appears, quite simply, not right. Maybe we should all just get rid of Instagram. Maybe, today, inside, we are all a dead dolphin in our own ways.

Or maybe not. Maybe, sometimes, a dead dolphin is just a dead dolphin. But we’ll never know for sure, now, will we?

fkamer@observer.com | @weareyourfek