Dolphin Perishes in Gowanus Canal

by Alexander Mildener, staff reporter

An adult Common Dolphin could no longer hang on to its life and perished in the Gowanus Canal located in Brooklyn, NY. The seven foot long, 345 pound dolphin was completely covered in oil, muck and other waste according to the New York Times. Its skin which was originally grey, turned black due to the polluted waters. The dolphin could barely rise to the surface to breathe because the weight of the oil pinned it down. It eventually died at 6 PM on January 26th according to Daily News.

The Riverhead Foundation conducted a necropsy to determine the cause of death. Despite the dolphin being covered in oil, this was not determined to be the cause of death. The dolphin was very old, (about 25 years), starving and was suffering from kidney stones and ulcers according to Daily News.

Superviser of the Riverhead Foundation and Marine Biologist Julika Wocial stated: “The examination was conducted and the preliminary findings are as follows: The male adult common dolphin measured over 7 feet in length and weighed 343 lbs. The teeth exhibited a wear pattern consistent with advanced age. The body condition of the dolphin was noted as thin. Samples were collected and will be submitted for microscopic evaluation. The digestive system was noted as empty with ulcerations on the tongue and stomach lining. Parasites were noted within the liver, stomach and sinuses. The right kidney was marked by the presence of multiple kidney stones. The findings of the gross examination of this individual support a chronic debilitating health condition.”

There was much controversy over the dolphin’s death. Several people on twitter made incredibly harsh comments that rescuers refused to save the dolphin. However, Wocial stated “When our team arrived on scene the decision was made to monitor the animal through a tide cycle to see if it would move out of the area on its own in deeper water. In the meantime, options of human intervention were being discussed and the factors that needed to be considered were: the mud was too dangerous for people to go into the canal; the area was too shallow for any rescue boats at low tide; the canal was potentially polluted and “toxic”; there was no cetacean rehabilitation tank available for this animal if it were to be removed from the water.

“There would have been less controversy if they saved the dolphin from the filthy water. If they sent more professional help as in government help, none of this would have happened,” junior Peter Vecchio said.

Dolphins are common to the NY area. However, they are not normally found this close to shore. They are usually found several miles out into the Atlantic. Every summer a population of nearly 3,000 Bottlenose Dolphins migrate to New Jersey. Common Dolphins can be found in the NY and NJ area throughout the year. However, a few dolphins have been known to stray into city harbors and ports.
Whale and dolphin populations are suffering in NY and NJ. However, there is something everyone can do to help. “Anybody can aid in protecting marine mammals and sea turtles by cleaning the beaches and not leaving garbage on the beach, by spreading the word to their families and friends, donating to marine mammal and sea turtle rescue organizations, and not disturbing marine mammals and sea turtles if they do encounter them in the wild, but calling a local Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Rescue Organization (in NY its Riverhead Foundation, 24-hour hotline 631.369.9829)” says Wocial.

[There are a number of species of dolphin found off the NY coast such as Common Dolphins, Bottlenose Dolphins, Atlantic White Sided Dolphins, Risso’s Dolphins and Pilot Whales.

. Dolphins have become increasingly common off waters around the Rockaways.

. There are Dolphin watching tours around Breezy Point, Queens, NY.

.There are also dolphin watching tours around Montauk, Long Island.]

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