The number of whale sightings around New Jersey has increased substantially this year, suggesting that the state’s coastal waters are now clean enough to sustain humpbacks, finbacks and other species during their feeding season.
Since April, dozens of whales have been spotted from Sandy Hook to Cape May chasing down schools of small fish, sometimes within a mile of New Jersey’s shoreline, according to a report by The Record newspaper.
“They seem to be staying in the same area all season long, which is something we haven’t really seen before,” said Amy Bergeron, a marine biologist with the Cape May Whale Watch and Research Center, which runs tours along the state’s southern coast. “Some are not even a mile out. We know they come here for the food, and you’re seeing huge batches of baitfish close to the shore.”
As of late August, the Cape May center had 37 whale sightings, compared with 15 through October last year. Gotham Whale Watch, a local group of “citizen scientists” who catalog marine mammals, has reported 57 whale sightings, up from 43 in 2013.