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'Sludgie the Whale' Skull to be Displayed at Gowanus TEDx Conference

By Leslie Albrecht | December 20, 2013 6:59am
 The skull of a whale who died in 2007 after wandering into the Gowanus Canal will be displayed at a TEDx conference in January 2014.
Skull of Sludgie the Whale to be Displayed at Gowanus TEDx Conference
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GOWANUS — Sludgie the Whale is about to resurface in Gowanus.

The skull of the wayward whale, which died in 2007 after wandering into the Gowanus Canal, will be displayed at the TEDx Gowanus conference in January.

"It’s going to remind our attendees of that cycle of life and death that's constantly happening in the Gowanus area," said TEDx Gowanus conference organizer Sean Gannet.

The whale's cranium will be part of an interactive art exhibit produced by the local arts organization Proteus Gowanus. The installation will include "illustrations and news items of animal and human sightings in and around the canal from the 1870s to the present," conference organizers said.

Conference organizers have also released a video about Sludgie's necropsy, which revealed that the animal didn't die from the canal's toxins as many assumed, Gannet said.

Sludgie was a baby minke whale that captured public attention after it was spotted swimming in the canal. The whale got its unfortunate nickname as a play on the Carvel ice cream cake Fudgie the Whale.

The marine mammal's death, though not related to pollution, was a stark reminder of the canal's toxicity, and became a moment that mobilized the community, said Gannet, who's lived in Gowanus for 10 years.

Gannet is hoping the TEDx Gowanus conference will be a similarly unifying force in the rapidly changing neighborhood. The one-day event will feature speakers on a range of "Gowanus-inspired ideas," including the science behind the canal's impending cleanup, the neighborhood's role in the Battle of Brooklyn, and the area's artists and innovators.

"It feels like this is the right moment to hit the pause button, have a talk about the area, and really share the things that inspire us and our vision for the future of Gowanus," Gannet said.