There Have Been More Than 100 Humpback Whale Spottings Off NY Coast This Year

December 11, 2014 | Prachi Gupta

On land, New York’s ecology may not be that exciting, but the waters boast some impressive wildlife (and no, we’re not taking a sarcastic jab at the Gowanus Canal).

The BBC reports that the numbers of the endangered humpback whale are increasing off the coast of New York City, with whale-watchers spotting the mammal 106 times this year. There are at least 19 different ones.

That number of whales has jumped significantly since sightings began in 2010:

Paul Sieswerda, founder of Gotham Whale, which documents the marine mammal population around New York, said the whale sightings began picking up in 2010.

“It was pretty slim pickings at first, actually,” Sieswerda said. “We went on many cruises and had three sightings totalling five whales in 2011.”

Why so many whales all of a sudden? No one seems to know for sure, but existing theories are that the water is cleaner, and there’s a larger population of whale chow known as menhaden. But, says Phys.org, don’t expect to see any whales by the Statue of Liberty — “the whales generally stay well outside the harbor, beyond the “gate” formed by the Rockaway peninsula in New York and Sandy Hook in New Jersey.”

Still, according to Howard Rosenbaum, director of the Ocean Giants programme at the Wildlife Conservation Society, it’s pretty amazing that they’re so closeby:

“It is truly remarkable, within miles of the Empire State Building, to have one of the largest and most charismatic species ever to be on this planet,”

(Photo: Artie Raslich)