The Gowanus Dolphin Died From Natural Causes, Not Man-Made Filth

Last Friday, an injured dolphin swam into Brooklyn's filthy Gowanus Canal, where it became stuck and later died; the ordeal was equal parts captivating and disturbing, and inspired at least one moving tribute. Now comes word that the dolphin probably wasn't killed by anything man-made, news that will hopefully let us all rest a bit better. According to the Riverhead Foundation's Kimberly Durham, who performed a necropsy on the animal, the dolphin likely died from natural causes and not one of the thousands of pollutants in the canal:

"There's a lot of people saying that they believe it was the contaminants [that killed the dolphin]," Durham said. "The necropsy doesn't support that. It supports a very compromised individual that happened to find itself at that location."

According to Durham, the dolphin died from a combination of old age (he was 25-30 years old) and poor health (he had ulcerations and parasites in its stomach and suffered from kidney stones, which apparently are a rare affliction for dolphins). Durham described the 7-foot, 340-pound dolphin was "skinny" and said that he hadn't eaten recently; she also said he was "heavily compromised" and "destined to beach itself." All of which is to say: it was just nature being cruel nature. But why did we care so much? Durham also had an answer for that:

When it's happening right then, and you can watch it on TV, that's when people get upset," Durham said. "It's not something people see every day. It's very hard to watch something like that."

[Image via AP]