In our corner of Brooklyn, we’ve been waiting for our local whale sighting. But it looks like it just might be a matter of time. According to a NY Daily News article, local boat owners are already making money off a revenue stream that seemed confined to calmer waters: whale watching tours.
Once the weather gets warmer, I’ll try to time my harbor walks for whale sightings and bring along my binoculars. But I hope we and the whales can adapt to each other. I’d like to keep cetaceans in my neighborhood.
I can’t imagine not being awed by massive air-breathing creatures that move through the water. Whales are smart creatures that live in a dark, alternative Earth-world, where sound is the dominant sense.
In my post last week about blue whales singing in NY Harbor, I mentioned that I had an email out to the Cornell Bioacoustics Research Program to find out the current status of the NY harbor listening project. I heard back yesterday from Connie Bruce at Cornell:
The current status is that we have terminated data collection efforts as of April of this year. The data we collected is approximately 50% analyzed and yielding ground breaking scientific information since this, to our knowledge, is the first acoustic study of it’s kind in the NY area. Dr. Clark is encouraged by the initial results to continue and expand the study.
They are actively looking for funding sources to continue the research, and the clock is ticking.
The Cornell University Bioacoustics Research Program working with the New York Department of Environmental Conservation had placed underwater listening devices deep off the coast of Long Island to understand more about which whales and how many might be swimming along the shore. This blue whale was singing nearby in January 2009.
Christopher Clark, the head of the Cornell Bioacoustics Research Program, and his colleagues have been listening to whales in many different waters. In Massachusetts Bay, they’ve set up a listening network of floating buoys specifically designed for detecting endangered right whales in the harbor (There are less than 400 remaining North Atlantic right whales which migrate along the East Coast each year). That listening network is connected with a system for alerting ships to slow down for right whales in the area. (My article about the network appeared in Wildlife Conservation magazine in April).