On Sunday, a video that appears to show an angler with a three-eyed catfish surfaced on the internet. The video was reportedly taken near the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn, which is now recognized as one of the most polluted bodies of water in the United States. If the three-eyed fish is not a hoax, it could be yet another sign of the canal’s deterioration.
The website Gothamist.com first broke the news regarding the fish and was able to obtain a video of the creature from a bystander.
“Bunch of people were crowding this dude fishing near Whole Foods on Gowanus,” wrote the man who filmed the encounter. “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.”
You can see the video below:
Three-eyed fish, perhaps made famous by the iconic mutated fish on The Simpsons named “Blinky,” are incredibly rare—but they do exist. In 2014, an angler pulled out a three-eyed walleye from Lake Nipissing in Ontario. In that case, scientists suspect that the fish suffered from a bizarre genetic mutation and was not actually affected by something as outlandish as a nuclear spill or an old uranium mine.
That does not mean that pollution has no effect on fish. The toxic soup of human waste, chemical runoff, oils, and metals in heavily-polluted waters can cause any number of deformities in fish.
You can see pictures of the fish from Lake Nipissing, nicknamed “Three-eyed Louie,” below:
Officials from the Environmental Protection Agency previously warned anglers that eating fish from the Gowanus Canal is a health risk.
“The Gowanus Canal is arguably the dirtiest waterway in the country,” Chris Swain, a clean-water advocate, told the Brooklyn Eagle. “It’s home to pathogens, bacteria, viruses, blood-borne pathogens, dog poop, gas, oil from the streets, ‘evidence’ thrown off bridges and the notorious black mayonnaise that lines the bottom.”
A small but devoted community of anglers continues to fish out of the canal, and many even bring their catches home for dinner. Somehow, regardless of the waterway’s pollution, a number of fish and crustaceans still live in the canal, feeding a population of herons and egrets. If this video of a three-eyed catfish is real, then it may just be another indication that the canal is in dire need of a clean up.