Floating Corpses: Ah, It Must Be Spring in New York

New York, New York

It’s an eerie sign of spring for police in New York: reports of dead bodies rising to the surface of New York’s harbor and rivers as the waters warm.

Many of these so-called floaters are recovered from the city’s waterways in April, May and June than during the rest of the year, according to Capt. Anthony J. Russo of the New York Police Department Harbor Unit.

Last year, half of the 26 floaters recovered surfaced in the spring.  Since April of this year, nine bodies were gathered from the harbor.

Here’s the reason why: Icy waters slow the decomposition process during the winter, which helps conceal submerged bodies. Warmer spring weather raises water temperatures, speeding decomposition and causing the release of gases. “The buildup of the gases is what makes the body more buoyant and float to the top,” Russo said.

Once the body is recovered area law enforcement agencies are notified to check their logs of any missing persons.

The medical examiner’s office then conducts an examination to try and determine the identity of the person.

Police say foul play is most often the cause in these floater cases.



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