For The First Time In A Century, Humpback Whales Have Returned To New York City

January 10, 2018

For the first time in a century, humpback whales have returned to the New York harbor.

And not just occasionally, either. They're coming in enough numbers that a tour group can reliably take tourists out to see them.

whales return to NYC after century

Paul Sieswerda is the founder of Gotham Whale, a company that conducts whale tours and monitors the presence of whales, seals, and dolphins in New York City.

Sieswerda says the whales are coming to NYC to feed before migrating south to Caribbean waters for the winter.

"Because of the improvement of the water quality, algae and zooplankton have multiplied, giving good food for the menhaden [a small oily forager fish beloved by whales], which have returned in numbers that the fishermen say they have not seen in their lifetimes," Sieswerda told PopSci.

"Our surveys show an exponential increase in the number of whales since 2011 when we first began our studies," he added. "Prior to that, whales were only seen intermittently."

Cleaner waterways, likely due to legislation to protect the environment, have lured fish back to the city, giving whales and various other marine wildlife an all-you-can-eat buffet.

"I've fished these water for 40 years. I’ve never seen so much life. I’ve seen my first whales, dolphins and a school of massive rays that stretched for miles. It’s amazing," local fisherman Stony Bennett said.

Since Gotham Whale was founded in 2011, they've counted 75 individual whales in New York City's waters.

Here's a video of a humpback breaching by the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge:

(Warning: strong language)

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