LONG BEACH, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – In a rare sight, a humpback whale has been spotted swimming in Reynolds Channel.
As CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan reported, experts fear it could get stranded in the shallow water.
Billy O’Brien was among those grabbing his camera.
“It was the coolest thing,” he said. “The spray came up, and then it just came up to the top and then it went back down again.”
For the past 10 days, the 30 foot, 40,000 pound teenage humpback whale has been spotted cruising Reynolds Channel – from East Rockaway to Point Lookout.
It’s chasing bunker fish from the ocean and creating a spectacle for all to see.
“It’s exciting that we’re seeing whales now. That’s a sign the water is getting cleaner. Bait in the water, so that’s attracting the whales in,” fisherman Peter Romano said. “But sad that they’re getting trapped.”
The majestic creature isn’t technically trapped. It seems disoriented but healthy. The hope is to herd it back to sea, with the help of the Department of Environmental Conservation, the Coast Guard and bay constables.
Scientist Robert DiGiovanni, of the Atlantic Marine Conservation Society, has been monitoring to make sure the humpback with the knobbly head isn’t stranded in shallow waters.
“Our concern is that as we see more sightings, it increases the interest of the public. And if they come in, they can interact with the animal and have unintended consequences, where they change the animal’s behavior in some manner,” he said.
The fear is that boaters will try to get up close and personal, frighten the whale, or strike it with propellers.
“It is kind of exciting but it’s something that shouldn’t be here, and we’re hoping that it just leaves safely,” said Scott Bochner, of the Long Beach Environmental Board.
Whale sightings in the channel can be reported to the Atlantic Marine Conservation Society.