Marine life in NYC waters

August 22, 2022

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Whales, dolphins, sharks, and other marine life have felt the pull to the Big Apple — flocking to New York waters in increasingly high numbers.
Here's Why & Why It Matters

"They know where good cuisine is. New York has always been famous for that."

Paul Sieswerda, exec. director of Gotham Whale, a whale research & advocacy center in NYC. America’s largest city has seen a considerable increase of marine life this summer. One study documented 101 whales between 2011 and 2018 in NY waters; early data from this summer shows this figure has now risen to 257 whale sightings in the same area. Conservation efforts throughout recent years have led to growing fish populations, cleaner water, & healthier conditions for marine life.

Small Fish: Big Difference

Legislation passed in 2019 prohibited the overfishing of menhaden (AKA bunker fish) — a nondescript fish that can grow to around 15 in. long & weigh about a pound.

“Because of (that) … we’re seeing a resurgence of all marine life. That includes sharks, whales, dolphins, ospreys, seals and bald eagles.” The menhaden is “the most important fish in the Atlantic Ocean because it feeds everything.”

Frank Quevedo, executive director of South Fork Natural History Museum and Nature Center.

"The hunch is that the sharks follow the humpback whales."

Patrick Nason, marine conservationist & anthropologist. There has been an increase in shark sightings & attacks in NY waters this summer, especially in Long Island. In response, the state is increasing shark monitoring and lifeguards across NYC beaches. No fatalities have occurred since 1878.

Along with national conservation efforts to keep oceans clean, NY is halfway through a 10-year effort called the “Ocean Action Plan,” with the goal of achieving “better-managed and healthier ocean ecosystems that will benefit people, communities, and the natural world” through 61 specific action points.

‘Sightings of a lifetime’: Whales and dolphins flock to NYC waters (NY Post)

An interesting read: Life, both big and small, returns to NYC’s 500 miles of coastline (National Geographic)

New York Ocean Action Plan (New York State)

Summary of Actions in NY Ocean Action Plan (New York State)

by Jenna Lee,