• Yes, There Were Whale Sightings in the Hudson River This Week

    Written by:

    Well, well, whale…we’ve got a WHALE of a story for you. Ok, that’s enough of the puns, but in case you were wondering why we’re being so punny, it’s because there have been a number of whale sightings in the Hudson recently. Believe it or not, the more we cut down on pollution in the Hudson River, the more hospitable the waters become to certain species of whales. While we’ll likely never see some species {such as orcas, which migrate down the west coast and in Canadian waters}, the New York waterways have recently become home to more and more humpback whales {who knew a reusable straw could do so much good}. Keep reading to find out more about the whale sightings in the Hudson River and what you need to know about them.

    whale sightings 1

    {Photo credit: @brooklynphotographer89}

    All About the Whales

    Gotham Whales — a non-profit whale research and advocacy organization based in Rockaway — started tracking whale sightings around New York back in 2010. That first year, Gotham recorded five whale sightings. As of last year, Gotham recorded 272, a vast majority of which were humpbacks.

    That makes for a sighting spike of 540%, a figure the founder of Gotham Whale attests to the success of recent environmental programs. The Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act, and the Marine Mammal Protection Act all played a significant role in beefing up the marine ecosystem of the Hudson, founder Paul Sieswerda says.

    See More: All About The Hoboken Cove Boathouse {+ The Vandalism Happening}

    Less Pollution, More Whales

    According to Patch.com, Sieswerda says the lessening of pollution in the Hudson River has significantly contributed to the increased number of whale sightings. The cleaner the Hudson gets, the more nutrients it has.

    “So the Hudson River, instead of bringing out pollution to the areas we see whales – the lower estuary and the area right outside the mouth of the Hudson – it’s bringing nutrients,” Sieswerda said.

    whale sightings 2

    {Photo credit: @brooklynphotographer89}

    The nutrients are crucial to bolstering the Menhaden population. Menhaden is a type of fish that {you guessed it} humpback whales feed on. The nutrients in the Hudson feed the algae, the algae attracts Menhaden, and Menhaden attract our 66,000-pound friends with fins.

    Gotham Whales has been sailing the surrounding New York City waterways for nine seasons now, so the crew and staff have become super familiar with some of New York’s friendlier whales. Aside from identifying each humpback by markers underneath their flukes {AKA whale tails}, staff have even gone as far as to name some of the mammals.

    whale sightings seals 3

    {Photo credit: @brooklynphotographer89}

    Gotham partners with American Princess Cruises to bring people on whale-watching excursions without leaving behind the Manhattan skyline. Other marine life often seen on these excursions includes bottlenose dolphins and seals.

    But for sure, a whale sighting is one of the most majestic moments of the experience.

    “They’re like buses, and to think that’s a living animal and to think that it has the power and grace to completely jump out of the water when they breach is a spectacle that I think is unique to the animal kingdom,” Sieswerda said. “The sheer size alone is incredible.”

    The next time you feel like cursing Hoboken’s plastic bag ban {check out our guide to surviving life without plastic bags here}, remember that the seals, dolphins, and whales are thankful for such legislation.

    Read More: Your Guide to The Best Jersey Shore Beaches

    How You Can Help Keep the Ecosystem Clean

    Refusing single-use plastic whenever possible does more good than you could even imagine. Nasty plastic things like single-use straws, balloons, and even plastic bags inevitably end up in our waterways. Cutting back plastic as much as possible really helps lower the amount of plastic that makes its way into the Hudson.

    Composting is another great, eco-friendly option. The more you buy that’s compostable, the less trash you make. {It also means buying less plastic, since plastic can’t break down}. The less trash you make, the less trash that can find its way into our waterways and oceans.

    If you’re passionate about whales and want to take more immediate action, Gotham Whales features several petitions on its website. These petitions include limiting fishermen’s access to certain areas and also creating stronger regulations for the fishing of the Menhaden population. You can also purchase a Gotham Whales membership, the donation for which goes toward supporting the whales of NYC.

    Aaaaand, if you’re interested in whale watching, you can hop aboard American Princess Cruises. Cruises run from May 4th to November 3rd and there’s a good chance you’ll see dolphins, whales, and seals during your expedition.

    You might even spot a humpback whale while pedaling around NYC’s waters on NYC Cycleboats.

    Have you ever seen a whale off of New York City? Let us know in the comments below!


    Written by:

    Steph Osmanski is a freelance writer who specializes in sustainability and health and wellness content. She is currently pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing at Stony Brook Southampton.


    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *