The whale populations of the New York Harbour are booming after years of steady decline. Thanks to the collaborative efforts of the government and conservationists, the whales are happily swimming in the area again. Hopefully, they will continue to thrive and bless the residents with their presence.
Gotham Whale, a non-profit dedicated to improving the health of the state’s marine ecosystems, has been closely following the whales of the area. In 2011, they recorded just five humpbacks in New York City’s waters. Due to pollution, the water quality of the harbour dramatically decreased. This killed all the tiny oceanic life like algae and zooplankton, and whales no longer had a food source. On top of that, the waters were just not ideal conditions for a whale to be swimming in.
They surveyed the number of whale sightings again in 2018, and the organization counted 272 cetaceans swimming in the area. This year, they predict that there will be over 370 whales of different species in the harbour’s waters. Thanks to improving water quality, the majestic creatures’ food source (fish called menhaden that feed off of the zooplankton) returned, so they can thrive in the area again.
On top of changing behaviours that cleaned the waters, the government created laws that protected marine mammals from hunters. Centuries of whaling depleted the whale populations, and they have learned to stay away from the waters where the humans patrol. When the “predators” of the New York area were gone, the whales could return to the harbour safely. Now, hundreds are thriving in the area, and their presence is a blessing to both locals and tourists.
While this is a huge win, there are still many challenges that the New Yorker whales face. The competition for their favourite food is increasing because humans are fishing them on an industrial scale. The whales also live in a busy seaport, so collisions with large boats may result in fatalities. To solve the former issue, there are currently petitions to create a restriction zone so that there are areas reserved for whale feeding. To combat the latter, technology was developed to detect whale calls so that ship captains can take note where the animals are on their radars.