Update: Dolphin Stuck in Gowanus Canal

Police and emergency services are attempting to rescue animal.

Update, 4:00 pm: More details continue to pour in regarding the dolphin currently trapped in Brooklyn’s Gowanus Canal.

According to Riverhead Foundation, the dolphin was first spotted at the entrance of the waterway at 9:30 Friday morning by a citizen who phoned in the sighting.

Julika Wocial, Rescue Program Supervisor and Marine biologist for Riverhead Foundation, described the mammal as a common dolphin, adult, 6 to 7 feet long and weighing approximately 200 pounds.

For the safety of the dolphin, “we have to wait for one or two tide cycles” before any attempts to help move the creature can be made, Wocial said. Right now, experts are collecting data on the dolphin’s behavior, breathing rates and other information to determine its health.

“It is exhibiting concerning behavior,” said Wocial, “different from what it would be doing in its natural habitat.” It was unclear, however, whether the behavior changes were due to shallow water, sickness or other factors.

While the animal was breaching, you could see clouds of “black mayonnaise” in the water around it. A crowd of 200 bystanders had gathered by 3 p.m. to observe the trapped mammal swimming around the polluted Superfund site. The cut originally reported on the dolphin’s dorsal fin is superficial, witnesses have confirmed.

The most unusual thing about the incident is that the dolphin is alone, said Wocial. Typically, dolphins travel in pods and are social creatures.

“Just touching the dolphin could cause it stress,” she said. “We don’t know what the outcome will be.” 

Because the dolphin is a federally protected animal, rescuers have to be authorized to take action or attempt a rescue. No operations will be performed overnight, reps have stated, because they have to consider the safety of the responders.

David Kirby, a Gowanus resident and author of Death at Sea World, was seemingly pessimistic about the dolphin leaving the canal. “It’s really bad for this dolphin,” he told Patch. “It was in trouble before the canal. They travel in pods, so the fact that he was alone definitely means he was in distress.”

Meanwhile, William H. Gonzalez, who works at the Gowanus Pump Station, was rather distressed by the situation himself.

“This is a poor, innocent, defenseless animal,” he said. “I can’t believe the city isn’t doing anything to help get it out. It’s one of the smartest animals in the world buried in all that muck and it’s sad we can’t do anything.” 


Update, 2:37 pm: A statement was just issued by NYPD regarding the status of the dolphin.

"The NYPD Harbor and Emergency Service Units on the scene at the Gowanus Canal are with marine mammal experts from the Riverhead Foundation," stated Deputy Commissioner Paul J. Browne.

"At its recommendation, we are waiting for the next high tide at 7:10 p.m. to see if the dolphin can free itself," he wrote.

Police will stand by to assist Riverhead Foundation personnel when and if they decide it may be necessary "to enter the water in the morning to aid the dolphin as the tide recedes."

Stay with Patch for updates.


A dolphin mysteriously found its way in to a toxic Brooklyn canal Friday afternoon but has been unable to swim back out.

Rebecca Rogers-Hawson of the Gowanus Canal Conservancy said she received a call from Councilman Brad Lander at around noon, asking her to investigate the Gowanus Canal where Sackett St. meets the waterway.

"It's the first dolphin I've seen in the Gowanus Canal, and it's probably sick or injured," she said.

Rogers-Hawson speculated that the animal may have swum into the canal during high tide, got stuck and is now lost.

About a dozen police officers and three trucks from the NYPD Emergency Services Unit, parked in the Fourth Ave. Transport lot on Sackett St. near Evans, are attempting to assist the animal.

Its dorsal fin is also cut and bleeding.

"I first saw him swimming near the Union St. bridge with a trail of blood following him," said Rogers-Hawson.

FRANK INDIE January 26, 2013 at 03:06 AM
BRADY January 27, 2013 at 04:12 PM
Whats sad is the BLOODY FOOL who, a couple of hours ago walked by and left the dolphin in the cesspool of the canal ,especially the most stagnant end,and did NOTHING.


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