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Whales Revisit Long Island Sound

Whales have not been sighted on the western part since 1993.

It has been a long time, but whales revisit Long Island Sound and have been sighted by several boaters breaking the surface of the waters and swimming around for numerous photographs to be snapped or videos recorded. It has been highly unexpected, but warmly welcomed.

The sightings have become more numerous this year after a long standing absence of the mammals along the Long Island Sound.

In May, three beluga whales were spotted off Fairfield’s shore, in Connecticut, and another minke whale was seen not long after off Norwalk. They roamed about the waters and traveled as far west as Mamaronek, New York, according to the Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk.

More sightings have occurred in recent weeks, with videos and photos posted online by boaters around the area, who have spotted the whales breaking the surface of the water. It’s both an exciting and frightening experience to encounter such a vast animal that might easily tip over your boat.

According to researcher and liaison to the Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk, John Schnierlein, the whales had likely been attracted there by the vast amounts of baitfish in the area, which have increased due to fishing restrictions and lack of rain in the season.

Whales have not been sighted on the western part of the Long Island sound since 1993, making it a highly uncommon and unexpected occurrence that they would be wandering the waters now. The eastern side has seen more recently encounters with whales, back in 2005 and 2009, some of them even getting trapped in the Sound between 1986 and 2012.

It’s highly important for locals around the area and boaters to keep in mind that whales are protected by federal law, and close encounters should definitely be avoided in order to make sure that neither them nor the mammals in the waters are harmed. Their rare presence alone is cause for concern, so the potential problem should not be aggravated.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), boaters should designate lookouts if they’re within 2 miles of a whale and keep an open line of communication with other ships to avoid unfortunate accidents. If they’re within half a mile, they should reduce their speed to 7 knots or less, and try to steer their boat away from a possible encounter.

Without authorization, boaters are not allowed to purposefully approach the whales by going within 1,500 feet of the marine mammal. Should it happen, however, if they are within 100 feet of the whales, they are asked that they instantly put their engines on neutral until the animals are further away and clear from any potential harm.

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