December 21, 2023
A Whale of a Day
- as seen by -Natalie Ruiz-Pérez
From Sheepshead Bay in Brooklyn, New York, the American Princess Cruise set off to sea in search of marine mammals. After an hour and a half of navigating the waters, we arrived at our destination. The ocean and the guests stood still as we waited to hear or see a whale spout. At one point, I was so absorbed that I thought I heard a whale blow in the absolute silence.
Suddenly, the naturalist announces, “Portside, whale!” I positioned my camera quickly toward the whale’s direction, and a humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) gently popped up from the water, showing off its dorsal fin. It was only after I took the picture that I noticed, in the far distance, a cargo vessel in the background.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, “collisions involving ships and whales tend to occur around areas with the greatest shipping traffic.” The New York/New Jersey port is the busiest in the nation.
On that sunny October day, we saw three humpback whales and a pod of about a hundred dolphins. This incredible experience was possible thanks to Gotham Whale, a non-profit organization that has worked with several whale-watching tours in New York City since 2009. They have a catalog of over 300 known individual humpbacks from the New York Bight. The captain and crew of the American Princess are trained professionals who follow safety protocols when watching for whales.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Check out WCS’s Ocean Giant scientific and conservation efforts that are focused on better protecting whales, dolphins, and porpoises in the New York Bight here.
Canon EOS 77D