A six-second video clip taken on Twitter’s new video-sharing platform, Vine, that appeared to show the dolphin struggling to free itself from an unseen obstacle in the water went viral on the social media platform. But even with local ground crews on the scene, and Chopper 4 flying overhead, authorities were not certain what the culprit was.
The appearance of the marine animal sparked the interest of dozens of locals who gathered near the Union Street bridge, hoping to see the dolphin firsthand. But as of 2:30 p.m. local emergency crews could still be seen on camera studying the dolphin below, as they appeared to try to ascertain how to rescue it.
"It was swimming back and forth under the Union Street bridge when I was just out there, and then it briefly got beached because it’s low tide because of the flushing pipe,” Sasha Chavchavadze told the New York Times. “I thought it was a goner because it turned upside down.”
The dolphin's appearance comes in the midst of an EPA-sponsored commitment to clean up the canal. According to the Village Voice, the organization has set aside $500 million to help detoxify the polluted canal, by removing 600,000 cubic yards of polluted sediment and then containing the remaining pollutants with layers of gravel.
In June, the New York Times reported that there had been several sightings of bottlenose dolphins swimming in the Hudson River between 90th street and the George Washington Bridge. Kimberly Durham, a biologist and the director of the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation’s rescue program, said that while the organization had fielded dolphin sightings before, the reports of a single dolphin traveling in the waters alone was very troubling.
“We don’t tend to see them close to shore,” Durham told the publication. “If we do, it can be an indication that something is not right.”
Durham added that the organization receives about 50 such sightings around the New York and Long Island Sound area annually, and that in most cases the animals did not survive.
“One of the things we do find in animals that are undernourished or sick is a higher incidence of marine debris in their G.I. tract,” Durham said. “If you have an animal too weakened to go after its natural prey, it’s going to go for the easy meal and that is often going to be trash.”
View the live video footage of the dolphin below.
View more videos at: http://nbcnewyork.com.