It was something you don’t see every day. A common dolphin approximately six to seven feet in length and about 200 pounds — swimming in the toxic muck that is the Gowanus Canal.
Friday evening, the dolphin died, but not before an effort was organized to safe the animal.
“I was surprised. It’s pretty far up the canal,” said Robert Mina, owner of a lot along the Gowanus on the Carroll Gardens side.
PIX11 News was on the scene minutes before the NYPD rolled up with one of its Emergency Service Unit teams that specialize in water rescues. But a situation like this is uncharted waters for the team.
“That thing is going to die in there, it’s a shame,” the offficer said.
Mina said officers said there was little they could do.
“There is nothing they can do. It’s a federally protected animal and they can’t go near it otherwise the city is held liable if they harm it in any way shape or form.”
Julica Wocial, a marine biologist with the Riverhead Foundation and coordinating the rescue efforts, confirmed that the feds were involved and aware of any potential rescue.
“Any responses or anything that we do to those animals or people is authorized through NOAA fisheries, and we are in communication with NOAA, we have talked to them multiple times today, so it’s not necessarily a challenge because we are on the same page with them,” she said, speaking of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Wocial said they’ve never rescued a dolphin in these type of conditions, lost in polluted, frigid waters. So their plan was to do what it typical in this situation: Wait.
Alas, the dolphin died Friday evening.