NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — New York has seen a surge in whale sightings this year. But, experts say whales off the coast of the city pose another problem.

For most New Yorkers, wildlife spotting is restricted to pigeons and a few squirrels. But, the waters surrounding the city are a different story.

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There’s the spout, followed by the distinctive tail.

A sighting a few years ago would’ve been almost unimaginable. Now, New York is welcoming back the whale.

“The Hudson River is much more clean than in the past, and so it’s bringing nutrients out rather than pollution,” said Paul Sieswerda, the president of the group Gotham Whale.

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The Clean Water Act and the Mammal Protection Act likely helped revive the plankton levels in the area. Over the years the food chain has been built up. Humpback whales are now enjoying some New York fine dining.

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“The whales come here to eat. New York is famous as being a good place to find good food. And the whales have found menhaden, which the local fishermen call ‘bunker,'” Sieswerda said.

In 2011, just three whales were spotted in these parts. Last year, there were more than 300. Of course, life in the Big Apple isn’t always smooth sailing.

It is the busiest seaport on the Atlantic Ocean. The biggest danger to whales is ships.

“And so the whales are actually playing in traffic. The channels and roadways, so to speak, of the big vessels coming into the harbor are the same place where the whales are feeding,” said Sieswerda.

In an urban wilderness, whale recovery is dependent on our ability to coexist, so whales get the same chance to “make it here.”

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