A dolphin that became stranded in a contaminated New York City canal died Friday, a marine research team that had been dispatched to the site confirmed.
The sea creature had been bobbing up and down in the murky water for much of the afternoon and evening, the spout in its head visible each time it pushed itself above the surface. It looks to be bleeding from its dorsal fin.
The Northeast Regional Office of the NOAA Fisheries Service confirmed to NBC 4 New York that the creature was what's called a short-beaked common dolphin, known for its dark gray cape along its back.
Robert DiGiovanni, senior biologist at the Riverhead Foundation, told NBC 4 New York earlier it was unsafe to put rescuers in the water and that they were planning to wait and see if the dolphin would leave on its own when the tide rises.
"The best course of action is to see if that when the tide comes back in the animal will move back out," DiGiovanni said. "It’s giving the animal time to work the problem out before you introduce stress by intervention."
DiGiovanni said that they were unable to assess the health of the dolphin because of the murkiness of the water, but that dolphins are suited for being in cold water.
The Gowanus Canal empties into New York Harbor and is surrounded by Park Slope, Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens and Red Hook. It was once a major transportation route, and numerous manufacturing facilities operated along its banks for years.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency calls it "one of the nation's most extensively contaminated water bodies," with pollutants including PCBs, coal tar waste and heavy metals.
It was added to the EPA's list of national Superfund priorities in 2010.
Photo Credit: NBCNewYork