Sightseeing Humpback Whale Left New York for the Ocean
On Thursday, Apr. 9, the U.S. Coast Guard immediately set up a safety security zone in the New York Harbor after the humpback whale was spotted near the Verrazano Bridge by local residents who called the U.S. Coast Guard in the morning.
It is believed to be the same whale that was spotted near the Rockaways on Wednesday evening.
On Wednesday night, the Coast Guard had also been called to Rockaway Beach to establish a safety zone around a whale that had been reportedly trying to beach itself around 8 p.m. But once the Coast Guard arrived, the whale could not be found.
“I don’t know officially that they are linked. I don’t see why it wouldn’t be the same whale,” Petty Officer Berlin said.
The safety zone was set up on Thursday to protect the humpback whale from boaters and ships since it is in a high traffic water.
Apparently, the humpback whale swam into the New York Harbor for a look at the sights, and then spent most of the afternoon in the outer harbor under the watchful eyes of the U.S. Coast Guard and marine biologists of the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation.
Boat crews from Coast Guard Station New York, the Department of Conservation and the New York City Police Department maintained a vigilant watch to prevent commercial and recreational traffic from injuring the animal.
The U.S. Coast Guard established a safety zone around the animal. A team of researchers from the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation went to the whale this afternoon, catching up with it just south of Coney Island.
A humpback whale was sighted swimming just north of the Verrazano Bridge this morning. The U.S. Coast Guard established a safety zone around the animal. A team of researchers from the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation went to the whale this afternoon, catching up with it just south of Coney Island.
The whale was up to 30 feet long, which meant it was an adolescent. The whale was seen swimming back and forth between the Verrazano and the Rockaways, giving the Coast Guard some concern.
Paul J. Browne, the Police Department’s chief spokesman, said that two Police Department harbor launches were dispatched and gliding in the waters near the whale around noon. “The whale does not seem to be in distress,” said Mr. Browne.
"This is a small humpback, that does not have any apparent injuries but may have some health problems," said Rob DiGiovanni, who assessed the animal. DiGiovanni is the director of the Riverhead Foundation and its senior biologist. "It was having no trouble swimming, diving, or breathing, but did appear to be underweight with some possible skin abnormalities that can indicate poor health."
By afternoon, the adventurous humpback whale passed under the Verrazano Bridge and headed toward to Coney Island in Brooklyn.
Petty Officer Schulein said the whale was not too far from Brooklyn. “It’s right near Bay Ridge,” he added. “It’s right off of Belt Parkway.” By 1:15 p.m., it had moved near Coney Island, the Coast Guard reported.
The last known sighting of the whale was at 2:24 p.m. in Ambrose Channel south of the Verrazano Bridge by a Coast Guard crew and representatives from the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation.
The U.S. Coast Guard said the humpback whale finally made its way toward Coney Island and then headed to the ocean by late Thursday.
The Coast Guard suspended its security zone around the whale at 4 p.m. as it continued to move south.
The whale was last spotted headed toward the open ocean, several miles south of Coney Island. Riverhead Foundation is a member of NOAA's National Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Network. NOAA authorizes organizations like Riverhead to respond to sick, injured, or stranded marine mammals.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, several species of large whales are found off the mid-Atlantic coast, close to the New York Harbor around this time of year. Occasionally, humpback whales have wandered into the New York Harbor and gone up the Hudson River.
During the spring, several species of large whales are found in Mid-Atlantic waters. Fin whales, right whales, and humpback whales are present around Long Island and around New York Harbor. While it is unusual for large whales to enter rivers, it does happen.
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New York, New York, United States