Thursday, April 19, 2007

Sludgie, We're Going to Miss You

It may seem frivolous to be sad about a whale dying during a week in which 32 people were murdered by a maniac and on a day in which nearly 200 people were killed by car bombs in Baghdad. The whale had gained the nickname Sludgie (originally bestowed by the Daily News because of Fudgie the Whale ice cream cakes) thanks his presence near the Gowanus Canal, and its appearance was one of those things that diverted attention from the awful news swirling around this week. Dare we say that the Gowanus whale put a smile on our faces?

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.

Related Post:
Sad News: Gowanus Whale is Dead



Blogger The Phantom said...

Your clean and focused website is very good, and I liked your posts on the whale. A whale in Brooklyn. Who would have thought?

We'll miss him indeed.

9:24 AM  
Blogger meera said...

Oh, Sludgie, you did brighten my day yesterday. I'm sorry things went the way they did.

9:53 AM  
Blogger morphogen said...

Sad. But thanks much for reporting on this. As you point out, amid all the sad news these days, the little whale in NY story was a bright point while it lasted.
Something of this sort happened in London not too long ago. That whale also died.

4:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, at least we'll always have Fudgie.

6:11 PM  
Blogger Jordan said...

Maybe he choked on all of the condoms that have been floating out of the canal lately. (has anyone else noticed that? a huge number of floating condoms).

6:17 PM  
Blogger Passionknitly said...

I have a friend who made a crochet pattern in Sludgie's honor. here

4:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Everyone wanted that whale to die. It was disgusting! There were crowds of people standing on land chanting, "Die whale die!"

Whales are not terrorists, and people should have done more to save Sludgie!

10:38 AM  

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