By the subway, not the sea: Dolphin found in New York City canal

NEW YORK Fri Jan 25, 2013 5:55pm EST

1 of 10. A man reaches down to pat a dolphin as it struggles along a bulkhead in the headwaters of the Gowanus Canal as others look on in Brooklyn, New York, January 25, 2013. The sea mammal appeared to struggle in the narrow waterway that stretches 1.8 miles into Brooklyn from New York Harbor.

Credit: Reuters/Brendan McDermid (UNITED STATES - Tags: ENVIRONMENT ANIMALS)

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - A distressed dolphin was found mired in a notoriously polluted New York City canal on Friday, police said, where it was being observed by biologists who warned it may not survive its visit to Brooklyn.

The animal, a common dolphin, appeared to be disoriented in the shallow waters of Brooklyn's Gowanus Canal and seemed to be struggling to avoid getting stuck in the canal's muddy floor, said Mendy Garron, a marine mammals response coordinator from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

"When we see animals that come in, especially this far, and get into these situations they are typically very disoriented, and it's an indicator that they're either sick or injured," Garron said, adding that healthy common dolphins are rarely seen separated from their pod.

"They usually don't survive these types of stranding events," she said. The dolphin's sex and age were unknown, and reports that it may be wounded around its dorsal fin were unconfirmed, she said.

The police said officers were waiting onsite on biologists' advice to see if the dolphin might be able to swim back out to the harbor at high tide.

If the dolphin is still stuck in the canal on Saturday, biologists may decide to euthanize it with a chemical injection. If the dolphin dies, they will attempt to remove the carcass to take it to a laboratory for a necropsy, Garron said.

Some New Yorkers who visited the dolphin on Friday took to the Internet to describe its plight.

"This is stupid and I'm sorry, but it does seem like dolphin is looking up at humans for help," Dave Bry, a writer who lives in New York, wrote on Twitter as he watched the scene from a bridge over the canal.

"Jeez. Could that be?"

The Environmental Protection Agency declared the Gowanus Canal a Superfund site in 2010, calling it one of the country's "most extensively contaminated water bodies," laced with heavy metals, coal tar wastes and other pollutants from the factories and tanneries that have lined its banks.

The EPA is still working on its plan to spend hundreds of millions of dollars of federal money to clean up the canal.

In late December, a finback whale died after beaching in the New York City borough of Queens.

(Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Leslie Adler)

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