Watch Out for Whales in New York’s Waters

Humpback whales are the most common whale seen in New York’s waters. The Atlantic Ocean humpback whale population has been increasing in recent years and they were federally delisted as Endangered in 2016. More humpback whales have been observed overwintering in our nearshore waters, likely due to factors related to climate change, increased food abundance, and improved water quality.

Vessel strikes and gear entanglement are the most significant threats to whales along New York’s shores and were the cause of many recent whale deaths. DEC, in cooperation with the National Oceanic and Atmoshperic Administration (NOAA) and its stranding response partners, strives to respond to all whale stranding and mortality events to collect data and biological samples from the animal. If you come across a stranded marine mammal in New York, remain a safe and legal distance from the animal, and immediately call the New York Stranding Hotline at 631-369-9829 to report its location.

NOAA Fisheries administers vessel speed reduction zones which include both mandatory and voluntary speed reduction areas for vessels to reduce the likelihood of deaths and serious injuries to critically endangered North Atlantic right whales that result from collisions with vessels. All boaters from Maine to Virginia, or interested parties, can sign up for email or text notifications about the latest Right Whale Slow Zones and Seasonal Management Areas. Slow Zones provide added protection to all large whales and marine mammals.

Additionally, reports of marine mammal and sea turtle sightings from the public are crucial to helping the response team collect vital information about our local marine animal populations. Please send your sightings of marine mammals and sea turtles by email to Atlantic Marine Conservation Society. The more information you can provide, the better!

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