Help us name two dolphins in the Potomac! VOTE for your favorite picks by June 14th!

There are wild bottlenose dolphins in the Potomac River - and they need names!


It’s time to flip out! You can name two dolphins in the Potomac River!

Potomac Conservancy and the Potomac-Chesapeake Dolphin Project invite the public, for the first time, to name two wild bottlenose dolphins in the Potomac River.

During a two-week period in May, we received over 3,200 suggestions from folks all around the country. And our contest has made headlines in The Washington Post, NPR Morning Edition, WAMU 88.5, News4, DCist, and more.

Now through June 14th, the public can vote for their favorite pair of dolphin names among the top ten picks. Learn more about


Please note: Voting has now closed. The winning names are… “Mac” and “Chessie”!


The contest aims to raise public awareness about the Potomac dolphins, the groundbreaking research being done to understand more about this unique population of dolphins, and conservation efforts to improve water quality for all wildlife that depend on a clean Potomac River.

Charitable gifts are encouraged throughout the contest to support Potomac-Chesapeake Dolphin Project’s (PCDP) dolphin research and Potomac Conservancy’s (PC) local conservation programs; all public funds raised will be shared equally between PCDP and PC. Donate today!

About the Potomac River Dolphins

Since 2015, experts from PCDP have identified well over 1,000 unique dolphins and believe there could be thousands of dolphins swimming in the Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay.

There is still much we don't know about this local population of dolphins. In fact, they’re the least studied dolphins in the Atlantic Ocean. Thanks to PCDP’s research, we’re learning more about them every year.

Potomac Dolphin Facts:

  • In May and June, dolphins migrate in from the Atlantic Ocean and spend the summer months in the Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay.

  • The dolphins are concentrated in the tidal waters near the mouth of the Potomac, but citizen scientists have reported sightings as far upstream as the 301 Harry Nice Memorial Bridge.

  • Back in the 1880s, dolphins were regularly seen near Indian Head, Maryland, and some were even spotted as far upstream as Alexandria, Virginia. View map >

  • The Potomac plays a special role in the lives of these playful animals: it’s where they birth and raise their calves.

  • The return of cleaner water and healthy native fish to the Potomac may be encouraging dolphins to explore further upstream. With continued water quality improvements, it's possible dolphins could be seen near Washington, DC one day.

About the Naming Process

To help with tracking, PCDP identifies dolphins by their dorsal fins and assigns each one a unique name. To date, PCDP has named 304 dolphins with names that honor our country’s past and present leaders including US presidents, vice presidents, first ladies, and Congress members.

And while there is a “Lady Bird Johnson” and an “Abraham Lincoln” swimming around out there, more dolphins need names, including “D1” and “D2” – two adult dolphins the public will name.

For more information on “D1” and “D2” and where they’ve been spotted (including an interactive map), visit

About the Partners

The Potomac-Chesapeake Dolphin Project (PCDP) leads the first study of wild bottlenose dolphins in the Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay. Founding Director Janet Mann, Professor of Biology and Psychology at Georgetown University, launched the initiative in 2015 when initial research found dense populations of dolphins living in area waters. The Project’s research team tracks, identifies, and studies the dolphins to better understand their use of the Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay, abundance, temporal and geographic distribution, diseases, and social behaviors. PCDP also promotes environmental stewardship through sound education and community outreach. Learn more at

“Even though I have been a Professor at Georgetown for 28 years and studying dolphins for even longer, I didn’t know there were dolphins in the Potomac River until 2012. Most people don’t know that there are these large-brained, long-lived, highly social and charismatic mammals swimming in this iconic river. We are very excited to collaborate with Potomac Conservancy to help make this a healthy river for dolphins (and humans) to swim and fish.”
— Dr. Janet Mann, Director of the Potomac-Chesapeake Dolphin Project

Potomac Conservancy (PC) is the region’s leading clean water advocate, fighting to ensure the Potomac River boasts clean drinking water, healthy lands, and vibrant communities. Founded in 1993, we drive the region's clean water movement by empowering local activists, volunteers, partners, and members to lead the charge for clean drinking water, healthy lands, and safe access to the river. PC combines the grassroots power of over 23,000 members and online activists with conservation and policy initiatives to restore the Potomac River to full health. Learn more at

“Dolphins live in the Potomac River and we drink from it – that’s why it’s so important we continue progress to clean up the Potomac and restore it to full health. We’re thrilled to partner with the Potomac-Chesapeake Dolphin Project on this fun naming contest to get the public excited and invested in healthy wildlife and a clean Potomac!”
— Melissa Diemand, Sr. Director of Communications, Potomac Conservancy

QUESTIONS ABOUT THE DOLPHIN RESEARCH? Please contact Georgetown University’s Potomac-Chesapeake Dolphin Project at, or visit

MEDIA INQUIRIES Contact Melissa Diemand at 301-608-1188 x214 or


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