UPDATE: 30-Mar-2016 The Gothamist has followed up on this story of a three-eyed catfish and announced it was a hoax by an artist. The NY Times actually delivered the details on March 28 that an eccentric artist known as Zardulu orchestrated the three-eyed fish hoax from the Gowanus canal. She approached actor “Greg Hunter” [actually Greg Boz] with the fake fish tale and a bunch of taxidermied fish:
He was given a fishing pole and instructed to return another day and to appear to have caught one of the fish, and to alert passers-by to his catch.
“It felt totally fake to me,” Mr. Boz, 29, said last week at his apartment in East Williamsburg, Brooklyn, the five fish laid out on his kitchen table. “I felt like I was being a bad actor. But it was funny.”
It worked. Zardulu also claims credit for the pizza rat video that also went viral and the selfie rat story noting that perpetuating modern myths is “a tragically underappreciated art form”. Really? Well that does explain a lot of Doubtful News!
NEVER FORGET, all news is doubtful!
Originally posted 2015-Nov 12
Nothing gets headlines like finding a weird critter in a scary place. It’s triply fun if the critter imitates a pop culture icon. So, in the news, we have the supposed discovery of Blinky – a three-eyed catfish that has been found in a polluted waterway in New York. Is it real? Or is this a put on that is not what it seems?
A story appeared on The Gothamist on November 8 that some “dude” caught a freaky fish:
“Bunch of people were crowding this dude fishing near Whole Foods on Gowanus,” a tipster who captured the fish on video wrote us. “He caught a 3 eyed cat fish. Some lady was flipping out cause he whacked it dead and she said they were trying to preserve the remaining wildlife there or something. It was a crazy scene. He said he was gonna eat it! Crazy.”
The event which took place on the Hamilton Avenue Bridge was recorded on video by Greg Hunter who sent it to the media.
Notice that there is no water around the fish. Why is the guy just hanging around if he’s going to eat it? Why would ANYONE be fishing in this place to begin with? Other clues in the video lend itself to suspicion. It’s looking like a planned joke.
The Gothamist followed up the story with links to biologists who think this is fishy. Curiously, The Gothamist was also the source of this story of a “thing” (a decomposing raccoon) that washed up along the East River in the summer of 2012, as well as several other stories of freaky finds – dyed pigeons, a goat head, and the salad frog. So, it seems to be the media outlet for this kind of “news”. They aren’t as tabloidy as other sites that would publicize such a story. But it did get around. NYMag picked up the story and noted that the placement of the “third eye” was suspicious, as did the NY Times who was outright dubious about the tale.
One biologist quoted by the Times says that finding this freshwater bullhead in the saltwater Gowanus Canal is unlikely. But these fish are hardy, CAN tolerate pollution, and are bottom feeders, eating dead things and just about everything else. They can also tolerate brackish water but it’s generally conceded that the salinity here is still too high.
It’s also possible that this “third eye” could be a lesion or injury and that the catch was real. Regulars to the canal say they have never seen such a big fish in there before. Hunter insists the fish was real but that does not preclude a hoax by the dude on the bridge. There is no mention of what happened to the fish.
The Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn has a fascinating history. It was completed in 1869 to serve as a major transportation route. But now it is a Superfund site, which means it has been established that it contains levels of hazardous contaminants that need to be cleaned up with government money. The Canal was polluted by decades of industry, effects from ship transportation and urban runoff including sewage, and lack of environmental regulations and enforcement. The lands adjacent to the canal hosted stone and coal yards, mills, cement plants, gas, chemical and fertilizer plants, tanneries, paint, ink, and soap factories and machine shops. The water is saline. Rumors circulated that the Mafia dumped bodies in the waterway. Heck, it looked like everything else was dumped there. There have been repeated attempts to rejuvenate the area. 10-20 feet of toxic sludge has accumulated on the bottom. This must be dredged out and disposed as hazardous waste. Some report that wildlife is returning to areas along the waterway but the situation remains awful. EPA has identified more than a dozen contaminants in the canal including pesticides, metals, Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs), and Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs). Cleanup planning has begun but it is estimated to take about 10 more years. The goal is a waterway that people can safely fish in and exist alongside once again.
Freaky “Blinky” fish have occurred before. Any rumor of strange “mutated” animals alarms people regarding pollution in their immediate environment. That’s not a bad thing but hoaxes should still be called out. Real data are better than scare-mongering. It could be that this is a stunt to raise awareness of the condition of the canal and to push for the cleanup to begin. Was it an eye? Was it from that location? We don’t know. If another is found, alert a biologist. Don’t kill it. And, geez, DON’T eat it.