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Dolphin trying to escape from Brooklyn's polluted Gowanus canal

January 25, 2013|By Michael Muskal

A tree may be able to live and grow in Brooklyn, but a dolphin is a whole other matter.

As fellow mammals looked on from the frigid shore, a dolphin tried to extricate itself from the heavily polluted  Gowanus canal, which borders the legendary neighborhoods of Red Hook and South Brooklyn. The canal has been known for more than a century for the high level of pollution caused by industrial and other wastes.

According to video shot at the scene, the dolphin appears to be about 7 feet long. It periodically surfaces and appears to be trying to snort away a dark goop.

Authorities were waiting to see whether the creature could escape on its own during the nighttime high tide. If not, police will decide whether to put divers into the water to help guide the wayward animal.

It is not unheard of for an aquatic mammal to be trapped in Brooklyn, but it is rare.

In 2007, a baby minke whale – immediately nicknamed Sludgie – was trapped in the narrow canal. It died before it could be coaxed to leave.

The area was once known for its factories and is generally regarded as one of the more polluted parts of the city. In 2010, it was named a federal Superfund site by the  Environmental Protection Agency.

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