New York

Humpback Whales Can't Seem to Stay Away From NY and NJ

Researchers at Rutgers University in New Jersey analyzed why these whales continue to return

Whales in water near NYC
Artie Raslich/Getty Images

Humpback whales have been spotted by the Jersey Shore, Long Island and in the waters around New York City since 2011 — but why are they coming to the tri-state area?

Well, just like many people who live in the region, they appear to like the food.

According to research published in the Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, the whales stay on average 37.6 days and tend to return year after year.

It was discovered that a majority of the whales were there for their feeding season. Most of the humpbacks seen are less than 5 years old and according to previous research, young humpback whales typically return to feeding grounds further north, where their mothers take them before weaning.

“This research is important for the management of these protected species,” said Danielle Brown, a doctoral candidate in the Ecology, Evolution and Natural Resources Department at Rutgers-New Brunswick and lead researcher for non-profit Gotham Whale. “The more time these whales spend in the New York Bight apex may mean increased exposure to human activities including busy shipping traffic leading into the Port of New York and New Jersey.”

It is not exactly clear why these whales have chosen New York and New Jersey as their spot for feeding season. Researches explained that it could be related to the consistent availability of a prey species called Atlantic menhaden. These commercially fished species have been increasing in abundance in the past decade.

Copyright NBC New York
Contact Us