Whales in the waters of NYC
With a decline of whale population that doomed upon us earlier, this sudden increase in their numbers is a moment of rejoicing. According to researchers, the number of whales in the waters of New York City has raised by a whopping 540 per cent in the past eight years.
Back in 2010 when Gotham Whale, a non-profit organisation, identified only five whales in the waters of NYC, the world was in distress. However, major improvements have been made in the years that have increased the number of sightings to around 272, with a vast majority occupied by humpbacks, as reported by Patch, a leading local news platform.
Gotham Whale stated that the recent spike in whale population is a result of multiple environmental policies that include the Clean Water Act, the Marine Mammal Protection Act, and the Endangered Species Act. In addition to these, there has been a significant decrease in the pollution of River Hudson, increasing the sightings of these humpbacks.
In the worlds of Paul Sieswerda, the founder of Gotham Whale,
“So the Hudson River, instead of bringing out pollution to the areas we see whales – the lower estuary and the area right outside the mount of the Hudson – it’s bringing nutrients.”
Due to the increase in these nutrients, there has been a spike in the algae attracting a type of fish named Menhaden. Menhaden is the major source of food for humpbacks, a major factor that has helped increase their sightings. According to the Mid-Atlantic Conservation Project of the Pew Charitable Trust, Menhaden are also eaten by many other species and are described as the “most important fish in the sea.”
Humpback whales making a comeback
The NYC waters are now flooded with humpbacks which can grow as long as 60 feet. According to Sieswerda, this has been one of the most impressive developments in recent times. The humpbacks’ size alone is described to be incredible in his words. He thinks that they are like buses and that it is amazing for a living animal to have that much power. He further added that they have both the power and grace to jump out of the water, making them a unique spectacle in the animal kingdom.
Each humpback is known for having its own unique identity. The underside of its fluke, or the tail, is unique and has distinct patterns and different colours. Every time Gotham spots an individual whale, it makes a note of it and keeps count of the whales. Its catalogue is filled with 110 individual whales with their own unique tail.
Artie Raslich, Gotham’s photographer, has named one of the humpback whales ‘Jerry’ – a reference to the popular music band ‘Grateful Dead’. Jerry was first spotted when the team was on a boat named “Ship of Fools,” which was named after a song of the same band. Jerry is the whale that the team has the most information on and, incidentally, was first spotted on the band’s late guitarist Jerry Garcia’s birthday. There was really no other name that they could have given him, said Sieswerda.
With the population of whales increasing, looks like the marine life is heading in the right direction.
Isn’t this truly wonderful news? Let us know your views on the same in the comments below!
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