There are few stories I love writing about more than the apparent resurgence of wildlife along our shores, as historically poor water qualities continue to make strides towards a healthy habitat.
The latest is a rare sighting of humpback whales just outside of Jamaica Bay, along Rockaway Beach, Staten Island and Long Island.
Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers President Dan Mundy Sr. sent us the above photo, showing one of two whales that was spotted near the Rockaways getting so close to a paddleboard enthusiast that she probably felt the ocean spray as it surfaced.
Mundy couldn’t say for sure whether or not it was a humpback, but said it probably was. The same day, there were several other sightings, according to news reports out of Staten Island and New Jersey. Earlier in the week, Newsday reported on two humpbacks off of Atlantic Beach on Long Island – probably the same two.
And on the same day and same place as the above photo was taken,YouTube user Mike Leonard caught some cellphone video of a humpback surfacing near Rockaway.
According to Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation, humpback whales are common to these waters. But it’s rare that they’d be this close to shore, especially for several days on end as the sightings seem to suggest. The foundation told Newsday that they believe it’s because there’s an unusual amount of food for them in this area, drawing them alongside pods of dolphins.
Oh, yes, dolphins.
They were seen with the whales along Long Island, and Mundy said he himself witnessed an enormous pod of more than 100 dolphins in the same area just three weeks ago. He shared the photo below, and you can see Rockaway in the background.
If you’ve got a boat, it’s a heck of a treat to see the dolphins and humpback whales so close. But keep a safe distance; these are enormous wild animals, so give them their space. Oh, and send us your photos and video.