New Yorkers were captivated for much of the afternoon Friday by an unusual visitor in Brooklyn's Gowanus Canal, but the story of a lost dolphin had a sad ending. NY1's Polly Kreisman filed the following report.
A dolphin is not a sight often seen in the city, and a steady stream of onlookers gathered Friday to watch the drama a wayward dolphin in the Gowanus Canal provided.
"It was injured on the end of its nose and on its fin on its back," said one person at the scene. "There was quite a bit of blood."
The clearly distressed seven-foot-long mammal had become stuck at low tide in the Gowanus Canal, a superfund site that is one of the most polluted waterways in the country.
Dolphins are not uncommon along the East Coast, but are more typically seen off shore.
When a concerned citizen spotted this one so far from open water, they called the Riverhead Foundation, the only organization in New York authorized to rescue federally-protected dolphins, seals and whales.
"I could tell that the water was just very, very shallow, which is not a normal circumstance for a dolphin," said Julika Wocial of the Riverhead Foundation. "So sometimes, those animals could be exhibiting distressed behavior due to those circumstances, and they could also be exhibiting distressed behavior due to the fact that they are sick, ill, compromised."
Then, in the late afternoon, the dolphin headed toward the canal's shore, visibly bleeding, where a group worked to lure him to safety. Instead, the dolphin headed toward the bay, raising hopes, especially since the tide was rising.
But it was not to be. At about 6 p.m., Riverhead workers confirmed the dolphin was dead.
"It was a long day," Wocial said "The situation definitely wasn't easy."
Marine experts will investigate what caused the dolphin's death.
Because of weather and water conditions, biologists said they are unable to remove the animal's body yet.