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Whales are blowing up (air from the top of their heads) all over New York

Written by
Tolly Wright

Here in New York we like things, as a certain infamous city resident is known for saying, huge: Our skyscrapers are the country's tallest, our Macy’s is the world's biggest, and no town in America comes even close to meeting our population size. Now some giants are moving in and/or visiting the Big Apple and they’re making quite a splash. The New York Times reports that in 2015 alone there were 69 whales seen near the city’s shores, which is a big dramatic increase from 2011’s measly five sightings, and this year seems like it might be another for the record books.

These majestic sea mammals have been spotted coming up for air in the Rockaways, Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and other locals along the coast and everyone of the whales identified is on the endangered species list. The seven species found in the past year include humpback, fin, sei, sperm, minke and with an estimated population of just 500, one of the most endangered creatures on the planet, the North Atlantic right whale. Fans of the American Museum of Natural History, will be delighted to know that a living version of the show-stopping Great Blue Whale, the largest animal that has ever lived, even swims in our waters.

Though the chance to see such animals from the comfort of a beach chair, or an American Princess dolphin and whale watching cruise ($45), is trilling, their presence near the busy New York waterways might not so good for their wellbeing. Nine humpback whales were found dead in Long Island last year, and on Wednesday a carcass was found floating in the Hudson River. In the past one has even found its way into the Gowanus Canal, a wretched pool of vile scum no living creature should have to smell, let alone submerge in.

Earlier this month a Wildlife Conservation Society and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution began a research mission to identify the species and number of whales living and passing through the nearby waters—it’s their hope that if they can identify any in the busy shipping lanes they can alert vessels to slow down and save the marine animals' lives in the process. 

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