Full of Life

October 25, 2018

WCS marine scientists surveying the waters of the New York Bight for marine mammals and other species are enjoying a banner year.

So far, they've encountered a wide array of marine life in the waters just beyond New York City, including three different whale species (fin, humpback, and minke whales), hundreds of dolphins, sea turtles, pelagic birds, sharks, ocean sunfish, and others.

“The diverse marine life currently thriving in the New York Bight is great news and hopefully will continue as a great story of recovery for these iconic species and these habitats in our own backyard’,” said Dr. Howard Rosenbaum, Director of WCS’s Ocean Giants Program in a photo release. “The presence of some of the earth’s largest living animal species here indicates these coastal waters currently have sufficient prey productivity to support them in these waters seasonally and even for extended parts of the year.”

These research efforts are coordinated through the New York Seascape Program, a local marine conservation program based at WCS’s New York Aquarium. Lucky for us, the team has captured much of their good fortune on camera.

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A humpback whale breaches.

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Two humpback whales engaging in what is known as lunge-feeding, a feeding strategy in which these baleen whales speed to the surface and engulf schooling fish such as menhaden.

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A group of humpback whales in what is termed a competitive pod, where males or “bulls” jockey for position in an attempt to mate with a female individual or “cow.” This behavior is noteworthy in New York Bight because it is usually associated with winter breeding grounds farther south.

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A short-beaked common dolphin.

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More short-beaked common dolphins.

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A Kemp’s ridley sea turtle, one of the few sea turtle species found off the northeastern coast of the United States.

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A feeding humpback whale reveals its baleen, brush-like structures made of keratin (the same material that forms human hair and fingernails) that are used to filter small organisms such as krill and small fish out of the sea water.

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