Warning Graphic Image Below
At some point on Friday, most likely in the morning, a dolphin made its way far up into the heavily polluted Gowanus Canal. By 1:45pm a crowd gather and watched as police hung around trying to figure out what to do. The dolphin, which appeared to have an injury, ending up being stuck for most of the day in one of the shallowest parts of the Canal between Union St. and Degraw St. The animal kicked up large amounts of black sediment as it moved back and forth looking for an escape.
At times the Canal’s grey brown oily water made it hard to see the animal even though it often surfaced for air. When the animal’s head was seen emerging from the water, it would sometimes do an odd head bobbing motion giving the impression that it was gasping for oxygen.
As the crowds got bigger and the news trucks began to roll in, a police water unit appeared, suited up, and got ready to jump in the water. But as the hours ticked by no action was taken.
Officials had decided that the only thing that could really get the trapped dolphin out of the Canal was high tide, which takes place at around 7pm. This decision by officials seemed foolish to locals, who knew that every second the animal remained in the Canal was a sure sign it was going to die. Someone in the crowd was heard saying: “for God sakes, someone help this animal.” But no one did.
The media, of course, did tons of 2 bit news reporting asking those watching the tragedy unfold to give some emotional response for the cameras. Many weren’t having it, either because they were too upset at the assured fate of the dolphin or because they didn’t want to emote for the news network’s ratings. One reporter asked someone in the crowd: ‘did you already say “no” to being on camera, I can’t remember cause everyone’s saying “no” ‘.
A majority of the onlookers felt so sorry for the animal and many began walking away once it was clear no action was to be taken to save the dolphin. As some of the people in the crowd walked away they noted that they had just attended one of the recent public meetings in which the EPA had laid out its Proposal for the Canal’s clean up. Although those in the community are excited about the Proposal many feel the clean up is around 100 years too late. The Proposal was definitely too late for the dolphin who died at around 6pm, an hour before high tide.
It is not known what killed the animal at this time, but a report made by the EPA points out that the Gowanus Canal is filled with pollutants that are harmful to humans. At this time there are no obvious signs near the Canal indicating that the Canal contains dangerous toxins. Multiple condos are set to be built along the Superfunded Gowanus Canal very near where the dolphin died Friday.
The following video was found on vimeo. It is very hard to watch, but captures the struggles of the dolphin up close in the Canal. *graphic*