Sad news about Sludgie the whale: The baby minke whale, who captivated our attention as he frolicked in the Gowanus Bay, died yesterday afternoon. He beached himself near Clinton Street around 5PM.

The Riverhead Foundation's rescue program had been monitoring the whale and did not believe he was in trouble when he first appeared yesterday, since he seemed to be swimming normally. Rescue director Kim Durham told WCBS 2, "it suddenly began heavy splashing, hit the dock and then just went quiet." She said, "It was a very young whale that became confused and disoriented." There will be a necropsy performed on the whale - apparently it had fresh cuts on its head.

The NY Times spoke to Debra Clarke, who arrived too late to catch sight of the whale:

"We just came hoping for good news,” she said, noting that she and her friends had spent most of the day watching broadcast news of the Virginia Tech massacre. “After Virginia, you come here rooting for the whale. You hope that something good has to happen, because it turns out these are days for tears.”

Gowanus Lounge

's Robert Guskind had told the press, "People are concerned about the creature's ability to survive. Quite honestly it could not have picked a worse spot." Even Mayor Bloomberg agreed; before the whale died, he said, "My thoughts are with the whale."

Photographs by Amy Langfield/NewYorkology