Tale of Three-Eyed Catfish From Polluted NYC Canal May Be Too Fishy to Be True

A Brooklyn man has claimed he caught video of a catfish with three eyes.

November 10, 2015, 4:40 PM

— -- A Brooklyn man has claimed he caught footage of a three-eyed catfish reeled in by a man recently fishing at the infamously polluted Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn, but biologists say the tale may be too fishy to be true.

Greg Hunter, who shot the video, told ABC News today that he saw a group of people crowded around the fisherman, who apparently caught the fish this past Saturday. Hunter said he started filming the "crazy scene," where a woman was "flipping out" because the fisherman whacked the catfish dead and said he was planning to eat it.

"I felt it and it was absolutely a real fish," Hunter said. "I even poked the eyes with my finger. The middle eye was cloudy like it had a cataract or something."

However, officials at the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation said they believe the catfish "does not appear" to have a third eye, though the agency admitted that "without examining the fish" no "definite determination" could be made.

"This simply appears to be a scar overtop of the cranial foramen," the DEC said in a statement. "Although, there is a fairly common bacterial disease in catfish called Enteric Septicemia of Catfish (ESC) caused by Edwardsiella ictaluri and it often infects brain tissue leaving a hole in the foramen. If the fish survives, a noticeable scar (like this) will eventually form."

The catfish in the video also appears to be a freshwater bullhead catfish, which is "highly unlikely" to be found in the Gowanus, according to John Waldman, a biology professor at Queens College and author of "Heartbeats in the Muck: A Dramatic Look at the History, Sea Life, and Environment of New York Harbor."

"I'm 99 percent sure it's a hoax," Waldman told ABC News today. "The water is too salty to support this fish. The only caveat is if there was some major undiscovered underground freshwater spring where an ongoing population of these three-eyed catfish were breeding, which I highly doubt."

Nonetheless, Hunter stood by what he saw this past weekend, saying, "If it's a hoax, it's a hoax on me too."