New York, NY, Oct. 26, 2023 – The WCS Ocean Giants Team recently had a close encounter with a humpback whale in the NY Bight, when the whale (one in a pair of whales) approached their boat and swam around it for several minutes – images and memories that last a lifetime.

The team, about 60 miles off the coast of NY, earlier this month was conducting ongoing research on humpbacks and other whales to better understand their distribution, behavior and habitat-use in the New York Bight. During this encounter, one whale of a pair of humpback whales that the team was observing turned the tables and began observing them. 

Said Dr. Howard Rosenbaum, Director of the Wildlife Conservation Society Ocean Giants Program: “A truly awe-inspiring experience, one that we will always remember. To have this encounter with one of the largest animals on the planet right here off New York is amazing and highlights why continuing to protect these leviathans and their important habitats is so important.”

“I have conducted research on whales all over the world for more than 30 years, and these types of experiences don’t happen all that frequently.  When this humpback whale came right up to our boat and swam around and under it, the whole team was able to have such a unique experience that will inspire our efforts for years to come.”

The WCS Ocean Giants team regularly embarks on boat-based research trips in the NY Bight mostly between the months of May and November. Their research is aimed at collecting the needed scientific information to help inform decisions and practices to better protect large whale species (including fin, minke, humpback, North Atlantic right, sei and sperm whales) and other these waters.

Currently, WCS is supporting the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) revised rule that would reduce vessel speeds in areas where Critically Endangered North Atlantic right whales—especially calves—are likely to be presentPeople can support this cause and learn more here.

You can learn more about WCS whale research in the NY Bight here.