BREAKING: Dolphin stranded in the Gowanus Canal

January 25, 2013 Heather Chin
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Update 7 p.m. — The dolphin that had been stranded all day in the murky and poisonous waters of the Gowanus Canal finally succumbed to its injuries, dying at around 6 p.m. tonight.

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A stranded dolphin has been bobbing up and down and struggling to swim in the massively polluted and toxic-to-all-marine-life Gowanus Canal, beneath the Union Street bridge since at least 1 p.m. this afternoon, say onlookers and rescue crews.

According to NYPD Deputy Commissioner Paul J. Browne, the NYPD Harbor and Emergency Service Units are on the scene along with marine mammal experts from the Riverhead Foundation.

However, rescuers say that have to wait for high tide at 7:10 p.m. “to see if the dolphin can free itself” because the water is too polluted to risk sending people in. The NYPD will assist “in the morning” if and when Riverhead personnel decide it necessary to aid the dolphin in its escape.

The dolphin-sighting was first reported by the folks over at the Red Hook Lobster Pound, who tweeted the news out at 1:05 p.m.

Curious and concerned residents are lined up on the bridge, watching the dolphin, whose grey skin is covered in a coat of black residue. He may be bleeding from the dorsal fin.

The Gowanus Canal is a designated Superfund site by the Environmental Protection Agency, which just this week held community meetings with residents of Carroll Gardens, Park Slope, and Red Hook to present their multi-year plan to clean up the toxic waters, which is polluted with a century’s worth of industrial and chemical waste, sewage and more — measuring in the parts per hundreds, versus parts per millions, as is typically found in the rest of the country.

The Canal is not habitable to sustaining any form of marine life. The last time an animal became stranded there was in 2007, when a baby minke whale — nicknamed Sludgie — died before rescuers could guide it out to open waters.

We’ll update with more details as they become available.

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