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Where To Watch Whales In New York

New York has it all; neon lights, nightlife, a great atmosphere, and whales. New York is one of the most popular places that allows whale watching and holds several spots from which whale watching is possible.

New York has some fantastic places to watch whales. From Long Beach Island, Fire Island, and Rockaway Beach to the Hamptons and Sandy Hook, New York is home to many whale species.

Up until six years ago, New York didn’t have much to boast in the way of marine life, but since then, it has become the home to various whale and dolphin species, making it a popular whale-watching site for holidaymakers and tourists everywhere.

To find out where you can watch whales in New York, along with which species of whales you can see, please read on.

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Where Can You Watch Whales In New York?

One of the most popular areas is Coney Island, known as the New York Aquarium, in Brooklyn. Home to a huge number of tourists each summer, Coney Island also houses one of the best whale-watching spots in New York.

Along with its amusement parks and a vast expanse of beaches, this popular tourist destination has recently become a place to watch whales due to currents change.

New York Bight

New York Bight includes New York Harbor, Jersey Shore, and Long Island Sound, and it is a fantastic place to watch whales.

Humpback whales can be seen in these waters and can be seen along the south shore of Long Island, and sometimes can be seen within New York Harbor.

This area of New York is a whale hotspot, and blue whales, sei whales, sperm whales, and minke whales can all be seen throughout the year.

Fin whales can be seen around this area, with between two hundred to four hundred in these waters. They can be seen all year round but are closest to shore at the beginning of the year.

Find out how whales evolved in this article I wrote

Coney Island

The whales are protected from hunting by-laws and are thriving everywhere they are spotted along the New York coast. It is possible to spot whales in Coney Island by taking one of the Coney Island cruises to get the most out of the whale-watching experience.

There is a group of humpback whales that feed in the area during summer and can be seen with a whale-watching cruise.

Long Beach Island

Another place to spot them is Long Beach Island, a summer settlement that stretches along the Atlantic Ocean coast of New Jersey. Long Beach Island is a recognized whale watching area, and whale watching is available thanks to numerous cruise tours being offered, similar to that in Coney Island.

Ever wondered why whales breach? Find out here

Fire Island

Fire Island, close to the southern shore of Long Island, is another recommended spot. Whales can easily be spotted from the shore here, although cruises are commonly taken by tourists and whale watchers to allow for an immersive experience.

Fire Island is famous for its protected beaches and picturesque picnic spots, meaning that it is possible to spend the day relaxing and whale watching while mingling with others from the friendly seaside community.

Whales have excellent senses. Find out more here

Amagansett

Amagansett is also found on the Southern shore of Long Island and is another ideal spot for whale-watching. Located in the East Hampton area, Amagansett is a quiet, seaside village full of charm and seems like something out of a storybook.

As the area is closer to the sea than most of the spots already mentioned, it makes for plenty of whale-watching from the shore without going onto the sea.

The Hamptons

The Hamptons, situated close to Amagansett, houses the same conditions but has considerably less access to the shore than Amagansett. It would be advised to use a cruise tour to make the most of the whale watching.

Found on the Eastern end of Long Island, this is one of the wealthier tourist spots that allow whale watching and is popular among celebrities. However, despite the glamour, it promises an exciting trip regardless of whether you want to watch whales or celebrities.

Many people think whales are fish, but they are actually mammals. Find out why in this article I have written

Rockaway

Rockaway is arguably the first name recognized by most when the topic of whale watching in New York comes up. This is mainly because of the quality of whale watching tours offered there.

The Rockaway Peninsula is located in the County of Queens in New York. Popularly known as ‘the new Cape Cod’ for whale watching, Rockaway is the first choice for many, offering a truly incredible whale watching experience.

Sandy Hook

Sandy Hook is also ideal as a whale-watching spot and is famous for its frequent sightings of humpback whales. Sandy hook has much to offer with the ideal climate and a spacious beach and, like the rest of the whale watching spots mentioned, is a treat for any whale watcher.

Point Pleasant Beach and Lavallette

The lesser-known whale watching spots which are still in demand include Point Pleasant Beach and Lavallette. These two spots are situated close to one another, and the same experience can be gained from visiting either of them.

Both Point Pleasant Beach and Lavallette are in Ocean County in the New Jersey region and are known for their beaches. Point Pleasant Beach, in particular, is known for the Jenkinson’s Aquarium, while Lavallette is known for its boardwalk.

Whales often swim close to the shore. Find out why here

Cape May

Cape May in New Jersey is great for a whale-watching trip. Humpback whales, Minke whales, and fin whales can all be seen away from the coast.

Approximately ten miles away, a whale-watching trip may provide sightings of all these whales as well as other species. Further away, sperm whales, North Atlantic Right Whales can also be seen.

When Are The Best Months For Whale Watching In New York?

Whale watching can be done almost any time of the year. However, the unofficial whale watching season usually commences in early April and lasts through November. This is because the highest frequency of whale sightings has been in June, July, and August, making these peak times.

Those looking for casual whale watching usually do so before the rush starts in early June and after early September.

Which Types Of Whales Can Be Spotted In New York?

If you’ve decided to go whale watching, it is a good idea to read up on which whales you may see. With New York fast becoming a popular whale destination due to the change in currents, different whales have been spotted in recent years.

Gray whales can be seen in many places in North America.  To find out where I have written an article which you can read here.

North Atlantic Right Whale

At present, the North Atlantic right whale is one of the species. Being considered an endangered whale species with only around four hundred remaining in the sea, the North Atlantic right whale is distinguished by the calluses and barnacles on its head.

They have bodies that are usually all black, with the absence of a dorsal fin, and have V-shaped spouts. These whales live up to 70 years and feed on zooplankton and copepod, growing up to 52 feet long.

Did you know that you can watch blue whales in North America?  Find out where in this article I wrote

Humpback Whale

The humpback whale is another whale species that can be spotted and is currently the most frequently spotted whale along the New York coast. The humpback whale is a type of baleen whale, similar to the North Atlantic right whale, and is found in every large water body in the world.

They are larger than the North Atlantic right whale and can grow up to 62 feet long. Far from being endangered, humpback whales are listed by the IUCN Red List under Least Concern. With their dark backs, light undersides, and a small hump in front of their dorsal fin, the humpback whale is easily recognizable and one of the most spotted during whale watching.

Sperm Whale

Sperm whales have also been spotted and are recognizable due to their largely sized heads and rounded foreheads. Being considered vulnerable on the IUCN Red List, sperm whales are among the less common whales spotted by whale watchers. When they are spotted, there is usually more than one, as sperm whales travel in groups.

Killer whales are the favorite animal of many people.  Find out where you can watch them here

Sperm-whale

Sei Whale

Sei whales are another species of baleen whales and can be spotted around New York. These whales are carnivorous and are considered one of the fastest species of whales, moving up to 30 miles per hour.

They have long, streamlined bodies that are mostly black and sometimes deep blue-grey, with a light-colored underside. Sei whales are now endangered, having been hunted by Japanese whaling programs for years, although laws have been put into place to reduce this. Their sightings in New York coastal areas are usually rare, but they have been spotted.

Click here to find out the best places to see whales in North America

Fin Whale

Another species of whale spotted are fin whales, with brownish-gray coloring on the sides and irregular coloring on their heads. They have darker coloring on the jaw’s left side, with colors lighter on the right side and the rest of the head.

Fin whales are the second-largest whales and can reach up to 85 feet, with a lifespan of 90 years. Although endangered due to hunting, fin whales are popular among whale watchers and can be seen swimming close to the shore in many whale watching areas.

Blue Whale

To see the largest animal that has ever lived on Earth is a magnificent sight, and the blue whale can be seen around New York. The blue whale has created an impressive reputation for itself, largely due to its massive size of 105 feet. Blue whales are rare to spot and can be intimidating when they are located, with their massive 200-ton weight splashing into the water near the shore.

Their signature blue coloring is only visible underwater, while on the surface, they look to be grey with yellowed bellies due to the microorganisms living on their skin. Blue whales are endangered and fascinate whale watchers due to their sheer size and rarity.

Can You Watch Whales From The Shores of New York?

This is possible as long as the whale watching spot chosen has proximity to the shore. Of the whale watching spots listed, Amagansett provides the best conditions for whale watching from the shore.

However, most tourists opt for the cruise tours that take them around the whale watching area for a more thrilling experience.

Whales are part of the incredible marine life that New York has and continues to attract visitors due to their magnificent and curious nature.

Many marine mammals feed underwater.  Find out how here

References

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Carwardine, M. (2010). Whales, dolphins and porpoises. London: Dorling Kindersley.

Carwardine, M. (2017). Mark Carwardine’s guide to whale watching in North America : USA, Canada, Mexico, where to go, what to see. London: Bloomsbury.

Hadoram Shirihai, Jarrett, B., Graeme Cresswell and Kirwan, G.M. (2019). Whales, dolphins and seals : a field guide to the marine mammals of the world. London: Bloomsbury Wildlife.

Martin, T. (1990). The illustrated encyclopedia of whales and dolphins. Hodder.

Nowak, R.M. and Walker, E.P. (1991). Walker’s mammals of the world. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Perrin, W.F., Würsig, B.G. and J  G  M Thewissen (2002). Encyclopedia of marine mammals. San Diego: Academic Press.

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May, J. (1990). The Greenpeace book of dolphins. London: Century.