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It's beauty and the beast.
A pair of snowy white swans have been spotted gliding across the putrid waters of the Gowanus Canal this week, both delighting and horrifying onlookers.
And yesterday I saw two huge, pure white swans bobbing in the Gowanus canal pic.twitter.com/bUOSDh5JhB— Jen Mussari (@jenmussari) April 2, 2015
Swans in the Gowanus Canal: beautiful & heartbreaking. pic.twitter.com/uABTunwnTH— Greg Trefry (@gtrefry) April 1, 2015
Birders we spoke to say the animals are mute swans, which have yellow beaks, while trumpeter swans have black beaks.
Mute swans were first brought to this country in the late 1800s to add a touch of beauty to the estates of the wealthy, according to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.
But they're tougher than they look, and they've overstayed their welcome, the DEC says.
Mute swans are considered an "invasive species" that's known for "aggressive behavior towards people," according to the DEC. They also damage fragile wetland habitat and drive out native species (such as their cousin the trumpeter swan). It's now illegal to sell or bring mute swans into New York, and the state is working on a plan to control their population.
“Mute Swans are not native to North America and are looked upon with a bit of scorn by many conservationists and birdwatchers,” said birdwatcher Rob Jett, who writes The City Birder. “Despite their graceful beauty, they are actually quite an aggressive and destructive species.”
Maybe the pretty swans and the dirty canal aren't such an unlikely match after all.