Sludgie, We're Going to Miss You
Today's New York Times said that the whale was "delighting and surprising even the most hardened of Brooklyn residents" and it headlined its story "Frolicking Visitor Delights Hearts, Then Dies." Newsday noted that the whale had "captured the city's imagination." The Daily News said the wayward whale "captivated the city." Even Mayor Bloomberg had felt compelled to say something about Sludgie, noting that "My thoughts are with the whale."
Reports about the whale's death conflicted. Early reports said that it beached itself on a dock, but later reports said it showed signs of distress, then beached itself on some rocks and died. Early stories said ropes were put around it so it could be towed today for a necropsy. Others said it sank and will be found when it floats to the surface.
While we worried about its health, the media attention it garnered was fun to see and the chance that the whale would make it back out to sea or be rescued was enough to counterbalance the concern that it had wandered into water that we knew was especially fouled by this week's Nor'easter.
So, yes, we were very depressed when we learned of Sludgie's demise last night, sad that this beautiful creature hadn't survived and a little selfishly upset that the days of Gowanus whale watching had abruptly come to an end. We love animals and we especially like tales of (non-rodent) urban wildlife, so the whale's death produced the same empty feeling we had after Hal, the Central Park coyote died and the upset we've felt about the poaching of the Brooklyn Parrots. Yes, we understand that we live in a city in which tragedy is all around us every day--look at the number of children that have been hit by cars and killed in recent months or the tragic toll of that awful fire in the Bronx--but a story like that of the Gowanus whale can touch the heart too, albeit in a different way.
We're sure the marine biologist will figure out why the whale died, and if anyone is still interested it will be reported. They will probably find out the whale was sick and disoriented. We certainly hope it wasn't the Gowanus that killed him/her. The fact that we still tolerate rivers of sewage flowing right into the Gowanus during rainstorms--and that the pollution goes right into New York Harbor and eventually into the Atlantic--is as astounding as a whale showing up in the Gowanus Bay, but that is a different issue.
For now, though, we simply wish there had been a happy ending to this unexpected whale tale. Thanks for lifting our spirits, Sludgie.
Sad News: Gowanus Whale is Dead
Labels: Gowanus Canal