3. Many Whales Have Appeared in the Gowanus Canal

A celebrity for a day, Sludgie, a baby minke whale was spotted at the mouth of the Gowanus Canal in April 2007. According to Joseph Alexiou in Gowanus: Brooklyn’s Curious Canal, New Yorkers seemed to want something to root for following a large storm and the mass shootings at Virginia Tech. But by the time Sludie arrived to the canal, it already had suffered numerous cuts on her head from bulkheads along the Gowanus Bay. Due to the storm, the level of sewage was beyond inhospitable for the baby whale which had been separated from its mother. She beached onto rocks near the beginning of the canal and died a day after it was first spotted.
Alexiou writes that although the connection between water quality and Sludgie’s death was never confirmed, “her sudden, startling appearance had focused attention on the murky and mysterious waters of the Gowanus once again.”
But even before this, whales had been spotted in the Gowanus Canal on numerous occasions, with official police recordings dating back to at least 1922. In addition to whales, there have been dolphins, sharks, and a seal – but few of the the stories usually end well.