At least seven species of whales — including the rare and endangered Atlantic Right Whale and the world’s largest animal, the Blue Whale — have been recorded singing at an “open mike night” (actually many days and nights) in the waters of New York harbor and Long Island Sound by researchers from Cornell University’s Bioacoustics Lab. Ten underwater sound recorders were deployed in the area in 2008 and 2009, part of a larger study to assess the kinds of underwater noise that whales and other sea creatures are exposed to. The researchers were blown away by the diversity of whales so close to the City. According to the story in National Geographic:
“[T]he scientists were struck by the “juxtaposition of having such large charismatic animals that represent ocean biodiversity living right off of the largest city on the Atlantic coast,” Rice said
Some of the whales cruised as close as 10 miles (16 kilometers) from New York City, he said.
Clark said, “If you were standing at the top of the Statue of Liberty and looked south or southeast, if you [could see] under the water, there were whales singing under the surface.”
In fact, whales, dolphins, and even seals are on the upswing around the waters of the Big Apple, apparently due to increasing water quality and a whale-monitoring system that alerts boaters to slow down to avoid slower-moving whales. From the New York Daily News in January:
Tom Paladino, captain of two ferry boats from the Rockaways, says pods of aquatic mammals off the city’s coast have “increased tenfold.”
“We used to see 10 whales a year – now we see 100,” he said. “We saw dolphins almost on a daily basis between June and September.”
Who knew whales were so cosmopolitan?