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New York City’s Whale Population Is Exploding, Here’s Why That’s A Good Sign

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New York City is known for many things – media, fashion, commerce – but not so much for whales. That may be set to change as, according to a new story by National Geographic, the whale population of New York harbor is exploding.

According to Nat Geo that’s a very good sign as it means the water has returned to a healthier state after decades of pollution and now whale-watchers regularly see the large animals, mostly humpback whales, frolicking in the harbor.

“Such a sighting would have been almost unimaginable 20 years ago, when the waters around New York City were some of the most polluted in the world—a toxic stew of chemicals and garbage.”

 

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Environmental protection efforts such as the Clean Water Act and Marine Mammal Protection Act are credited with the dramatic change.

The surge in the whale population is more or less a matter of food availability. The improvement in water quality has resulted in the return of organisms such as algae and plankton to the harbor, which have lured back schools of menhaden–a fish that is a major food source for whales–and, in turn, attracted the whales and allowed them to thrive.

According to a nonprofit called Gotham Whale, that tracks the whale population of New York, the number of whales recorded in New York has increased dramatically, from just five whales recorded in 2011 to 272 whales spotted in 2018. According to National Geographic, 2019 will put even those numbers to shame with some 377 whales already sighted this year.

At the risk of getting slapped with a massive flipper you could call it a sea change.

 

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h/t: National Geographic

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Stefan

Written by Stefan

Writer and middle school limbo champ.