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Dead whale reported in Brooklyn harbor turns out to be boat part

The 35-foot-long object appeared to have grooves as if it had been sliced by a propeller and a portion that looked like a tail.

A boat bumper off Seagate, Brooklyn fooled a

A boat bumper off Seagate, Brooklyn fooled a passerby who reported to authorities Tuesday that it was a dead whale. Photo Credit: Gotham Whale / P. Sieswerda

Paul Sieswerda has been whale watching hundreds of times. He was a curator at the New York Aquarium and started a nonprofit committed to observing the growing number of whales wandering New York Harbor.

So he was fairly certain the dark-colored mass lying about 30 yards off the shore in Seagate, Brooklyn he inspected from a small boat Tuesday was a whale carcass. It even appeared to have grooves indicating it had been sliced by a propeller and a light-colored portion that jutted from the water that looked like a “lobe of the tail,” Sieswerda said.

But Sieswerda and the others who reported seeing a dead whale near Coney Island were wrong. It wasn’t a whale, it was a boat bumper, according to the Atlantic Marine Conservation Society.

“Boy was my face red,” said Sieswerda, the executive director of nonprofit, Gotham Whale.

Sieswerda heard reports about a dead whale Tuesday and took a boat out to get a closer look at about 5 p.m., he said.

He steered his boat close to the 35-foot-long object, posted photographs of it on Twitter and then called the Atlantic Marine Conservation Society, the organization responsible for handling stranded whales in the area.

Officers for the state Department of Environmental Conservation also investigated by boat Tuesday and “confirmed the sighting,” the DEC said.

An Atlantic Marine Conservation Society crew was sent to Seagate Wednesday about 11:30 a.m., according to spokeswoman Rachel Bosworth. When staff waded into the water they discovered the partially submerged boat bumper.

“It was a pleasant surprise,” Bosworth said.

Sieswerda, also, was relieved that there was no dead whale, albeit a little embarrassed.

“Sometimes these dead whales are in various stages of decomposition,” he said. “I thought that was the case here, but I was mistaken.”


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