Did You See This?

The Whales of New York

A special buoy eavesdrops on leviathans just off Manhattan’s edges.

Reports of a humpback whale grazing the Statue of Liberty in the Hudson River this past week shouldn’t be too much of a surprise.

It may be the last thing that would occur to you as you made your way down a crowded New York City street, but there are whales nearby, as the video above makes clear. As cars stream up and down the FDR and West Side Highway on the edges of Manhattan, how many people have any idea what could be swimming past, beneath the surface?

It’s not just a few small whales, either. Possibly largest creature ever on earth, the blue whale, swims off the Big Apple, and there have been sightings of humpback whales, fin whales, sei whales, and the highly endangered North American right whale.

Along with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution*, the Wildlife Conservation Society launched a buoy named Melville 25 miles off the coast of NYC in June 2016. Its mission is to listen to what’s going on in the waters off the City That Never Sleeps. It’s outfitted with an audio recorder that can recognize whale sounds and even identify the type of whale. The buoy transmits each hit via satellite to the shore, and it’s been pretty busy.

*Correction, Nov. 29, 2016: This post originally misidentified the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution as the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute.