Paddle-boating tourists enjoying the scene from the DC tidal basin during the annual Cherry Blossom Festival were shocked to discover a corpse floating beside them today. It is a Man's body, but the police have not released a cause of death or the identity of the man. It is currently unknown when he died or any of the circumstances of his death.

The body

The Washington Examiner, a local newspaper in the capital, was on the scene as the man's body was airlifted from the river. It was originally reported by Anna Giaritelli that the man was a victim of a paddleboat accident and that he was being boarded onto his boat, but this turned out to be false.

There were reports of a large group of paddleboats surrounding the body initially until the medical helicopter arrived to take the body away. Thousands of tourists come to DC for the festival and many enjoy scenes from the Potomac. Unfortunately, the river was closed after the body was found and the area is being treated as a crime scene.

The Potomac

The Potomac River was once one of the nation's dirtiest river.

Since 2008, it has gone from a D-rating by the Potomac Conservancy to a B-, its highest ever score. Still, the river is deemed too polluted to fish from or swim in. When boaters go out of the water they are advised not to consume any of the water and to have as little contact with the water as possible. The river has seen a noticeable increase in wildlife, including bald eagles, which had all but disappeared. Algae blooms are no longer as frequent or as large as they once were and the levels of nitrogen and phosphorus have precipitously declined.

The next major problem is the raw sewage being dumped into the river upstream from DC. The Clean Rivers Project is working on a construction project to divert sewage away from the main waterways and into a water treatment facility in an attempt to make the river usable for residents.

The river has become so polluted because of the increase in urbanization around the river basin. The cities contain few natural barriers, like trees and soil, that might soak up pollutants and run-off from the cities. The DC metro area lost a significant portion of its tree cover in the last two decades.

Efforts to clean up the river have made it more attractive to boaters and kayakers [VIDEO] over the last decade. Many DC universities, like George Washington University, now have active rowing teams and recreational paddle-boating has become a popular tourist activity. Without this increase it's hard to say how likely it would have been for anyone to find the body in the river.