Monday, August 13, 2007
Beasts of Central Park Lake
Despite its scenic charms, Central Park Lake has never been known for its cleanliness. Scientists say it's contaminated with mercury--and even amateurs can tell that it's no place for a swim. So it came as some surprise when it was recently discovered that the lake is teeming with bizarre wildlife.
Parks Department workers who were tasked with dredging the lake this summer as part of a routine restoration project probably wouldn't have been shocked to pull up a skeleton or two. What they found instead were thousands upon thousands of giant koi (which are closely related to goldfish). Some were more than three feet long and weighed up to 30 pounds. Workers also discovered colonies of freshwater clams, along with a few enormous (and dangerous) snapping turtles that tipped the scales at 50 pounds. However, I'm sad to say that no alligators were reported.
Once the restoration project is complete, Central Park Lake will be a much more exciting environment for visitors and animals alike. Islands, coves, caves, and streams that have been inaccessible for decades will soon be open for exploration. Though with all of those gigantic goldfish swimming around, I'm still not planning to go for a dip.
(Above: A giant koi. Below: Central Park Lake.)