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Save the Whales

Along the Jersey Shore

A dead juvenile humpback whale that washed up along Monmouth Beach, NJ in 2009 after being struck by a cargo ship in the ocean.

The number of humpback whale sightings along the Jersey Shore and around New York Harbor have increased dramatically in recent years.

On Memorial Day evening 2019, one family had a rare exciting experience. Two whales were surfacing having their dinner. "It was pretty incredible, definitely not what we were expecting to see there," said Alison Angilletta of Woodbridge.

No doubt, it’s exciting to see a whale along the coast! Due to improving water quality along the Jersey Shore, including around New York Harbor, there are increasing observations and sightings of whales feeding or swimming near the coast of New Jersey and New York. In fact, A total of 272 whales were spotted near the mouth of New York Harbor in 2018, according to the nonprofit Gotham Whale environmental organization. It’s a huge jump from when just five whales were spotted in 2011.

The sightings, which are almost always juvenile humpbacks or occasionally juvenile finbacks, suggest the marine mammal population is growing near one of the most populated coastlines in the world and within the busy and bustling waters of the New York Bight.

While industrial whaling decimated the world-wide whale population, including causing the extinction of the North Atlantic Grey whale population, during the 18th century, the main threats to whales today continues to be from people.

While some species of whales are slowing recovering from commercial hunting, all species of whales continue to be threatened from the direct result of human activities. An increasing number of whales every year are being tangled up in fishing gear, struck by ships, ingesting plastic pollution or being impacted by increasing noise pollution in the sea near the coastlines of New Jersey and New York.

The number of humpback whale sightings in New York City and northern New Jersey has increased dramatically in recent years, by more than 500 percent, as a result of warmer and cleaner waters, raising the risk of dangerous interactions between the huge marine mammals and humans, according to Ecology and Evolution doctoral student Danielle Brown.

Learn more below and discover some solutions and ways to help.