Photograph by Andrea Mohin, New York Times/Redux
Published August 8, 2013
Subway riders on New York City's N train found a fishy surprise on Wednesday: a dead shark riding with them on their daily commute.
No one knows how the still-wet, smelly carcass got there, but before Metro Transit Authorities removed the shark Wednesday night, passengers leapt at the opportunity to snap photos of the 1.5-foot-long (0.4-meter-long) shark with a subway fare card, soft drink, and cigarette.
The shark is just one of many exotic-animal sightings in the Big Apple, where the saying "if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere" could even apply to wildlife in the concrete jungle. (See pictures of six animal "commuters.")
A 7-foot (2-meter) male dolphin drifted into the polluted waters of New York City's Gowanus Canal in January. According to marine biologists, his death was not caused by pollution in the canal, but rather by a damaged kidney, parasites, and stomach ulcers. The day before, a WNBC news helicopter had spotted a minke whale swimming in Gowanus Bay.
Biologists discovered that New York City is home to a new species of leopard frog in 2012. Their unique croak led a team of scientists to question their previous belief that the wetland species was another type of leopard frog. Yankee Stadium is the center of their range.
Several coyotes have been spotted in Central Park, and one was chased by the police through lower Manhattan in 2010. Known for living in small packs and for being territorial, the animals may have traveled through the Adirondacks to the city to increase their range. Researchers are using camera traps to keep track of the predators.
A malnourished 60-foot fin whale washed up on the Jamaica Bay beach in Breezy Point, Queens, in 2012. An endangered species, the whale died stranded in shallow water. Scientists believed it was struck by a boat, as it had lesions in its stomach and kidneys.
A caiman, initially thought to be an alligator or crocodile, was spotted underneath a car in Queens in 2010. The 18-inch-long (45-centimeter-long) reptile was probably an abandoned pet. Seven years earlier, police caught a 4-foot-long (1.2-meter-long) crocodile roaming through a Queens park.
More than a hundred seals were seen last year in New York Harbor and Long Island Sound. Environmentalists believe they returned to dine on the fish and other marine life that have increased now that the waters are cleaner.
A colony of little brown bats nesting inside an Upper West Side water tower flew into a high-rise residence in 2006. When young bats leave the darkness of their habitats to forage for insects with their colony, they often become disoriented and appear in unlikely—and unwelcome—places.
Bright green parrots known as monk parakeets can be seen swooping down from giant nests in Brooklyn. Most live in colonies of up to 60 birds. Native to Argentina, their arrival supposedly can be traced back to the 1960s, when a crate with parrots burst open at Kennedy International Airport.
Tell us—what other weird wildlife have you spotted in New York or other big cities?
Weird wildlife in NYC? Ever been to Times Square at 3 AM? There's things there that are unnamed as of yet.
There are several colonies of Podarcis sicula (Italian Wall Lizards) in Queens.
There is apparently a flock of conures that has lived in Forest Park in Queens for many years. They are seldom seen outside the park.
Myiopsitta Monachus (the monk parakeet) has colonized Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, parts of New Jersey, and has lately been seen building nests on the West Side of Manhattan. The first sightings of this parrot in the NYC area were made in 1970 by noted naturalist John Bull.
The Brooklyn Parrot Society
@Stephen Baldwin very interesting Steve. I just started a group on Facebook to share pictures and stories about nature in Brooklyn and other urban areas. check it out and join if you'd like
Feed the World
How do we feed nine billion people by 2050, and how do we do so sustainably?
We've made our magazine's best stories about the future of food available in a free iPad app.
Latest From Nat Geo
These cooing Casanovas use showstopping plumage to court females and fend off rivals.
Meet a trapper who keeps Florida's streets, sewers, and Kennedy Space Center alligator free.