Whales reappear in Long Island Sound A humpback whale breaches the water in Long Island Sound off the coast of Stamford, Conn. (Dan Lent via AP)
Whales reappear in Long Island Sound
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It has been the year of the whale on Long Island Sound, where fishermen and other boaters have reveled in the return of the marine mammals after a long hiatus.
 
The highly unexpected sightings began in May. Three belugas were spotted off Fairfield, Connecticut. A minke whale was seen off Norwalk later in May. And there have been several humpback sightings in recent weeks. One was as far west as Mamaroneck, New York. This is according to records kept by The Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk.
 
Whales haven't been seen in the western part of the sound since 1993. That is when a 30-foot finback was spotted in New Haven Harbor, said Joe Schnierlein. He is research and university liaison for the aquarium.
 
Videos and photos of humpbacks breaching the surface have been posted online by boaters, who were both excited and frightened by the close encounters.
 
Chris Curran of Darien, Connecticut, caught a young humpback whale on cellphone video breaching the water about 20 to 30 feet from his boat. It was about a mile and a half off Darien and Norwalk. Curran was with his 8-year-old son and his son's friend.
 
Curran said the humpback appeared to be a young whale about 10 to 15 feet long. It came out of the water about nine times, the last time being the closest.
 
"I was having heart palpitations, I was so excited," Curran said. "The boys were fearful for their lives. They thought it was an orca. I was never concerned about it hitting the boat until that last incident. Then I got out of there fast."
 
The whales have been the talk of Long Island Sound. Warnings have been issued to boaters to watch for whales and try to stay at least 100 feet away from them. If a whale gets within 100 feet, boaters should put their engines in neutral and not re-engage them until the whales are clear of harm. Federal law protects marine mammals.
 
Schnierlein believes the whales were attracted by a big increase in bait fish. They include menhaden, which are rich in omega-3 oils and calories. He surmises menhaden have thrived for several reasons, including 2-year-old harvesting restrictions on them and a lack of rain. He believes little rain has reduced the amount of pollution-laden runoff that enters the sound.
 
Whale sightings in the eastern part of Long Island Sound also are uncommon events, according to records kept by Mystic Aquarium. The last confirmed sightings before this year were a long-finned pilot whale off Stonington in 2009 and a minke off Old Lyme in 2005, said Janelle Schuh, stranding coordinator at the aquarium.
 
Whales that have become stranded in the sound included a humpback that floated to Stonington on the edge of the sound from Rhode Island in July 2012, a fin whale in New Haven in 1993, long-finned pilot whales in Branford in 1991 and Madison in 1989, and a beluga whale in New Haven in 1986, Schuh said.
 
Daniel Lent of Easton, Connecticut, says he believes he saw two humpbacks Sept. 12 off the coast of Stamford. He snapped a photo of one breaching the water. He said it was about as big as his 27-foot boat.
 
"I thought I was staying away a safe distance," Lent said. "Then one came up behind me. That's when I freaked out. It went from being really cool to being really scary."

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
How has a change in the weather caused the whales to reappear?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (17)
  • annabel1226-yyca
    10/01/2015 - 07:25 p.m.

    Everyone must have been excited because they didn't saw a whale for a while. The earth is kind of being weird, so animals are almost extinct (some of them).... We should care for all the animals before they are extinct, and we should care for our environment.

  • lukep-6-bar
    10/01/2015 - 07:50 p.m.

    whales have been sighted in May on Long Island sound and it has been a long time since they have been spotted. University liaison has said that they have been sowing up due to the increase in bait fish. Many people such as Chris Curran have had close interactions with the fish and he says that that a young humpback jumped about 20 or 30 feet away from his boat.

  • John0724-YYCA
    10/01/2015 - 07:56 p.m.

    That is a good sign that the whales are coming back now and now it could be a good sign that whales aren't going to be endangered if we feed the Menhaden which is a good solution. Now all I hope is the whale poaching will be illegal.

  • Jason0421-YYCA
    10/01/2015 - 08:46 p.m.

    I think that it is amazing for three belugas to be spotted off Fairfield, Connecticut. What is more amazing is that a minke whale was seen off Norwalk later in May, and then there was a lot of humpback whales sightings in recent weeks. Hopefully these belugas will be safe from harm.

  • Eugene0808-YYCA
    10/01/2015 - 08:53 p.m.

    I think this is a good thing because this means that the whale population is increasing, the water is cleaner, and more food. However, there are still bad changes that can occur. It looks awesome because not many whales are seen.
    How has a change in the weather caused the whales to reappear?
    Answer: A change in the weather caused the whales to reappear because of a lack of rain, pollution does not get into the oceans.

  • Steve0620-yyca
    10/01/2015 - 09:00 p.m.

    I think that it is cool that many whales were spotted. There also have been people who have seen the whales up close. I think that it is great that many huge whales were spotted and hope that they will be healthy and fine. Whales are interesting creatures and it is good to still see them in the ocean.

  • rorys-1-bar
    10/01/2015 - 09:23 p.m.

    Weather caused the whales to come back because the pollution runoff has stopped going into their habitat. The article states by Schnierlein who said " He believes little rain has reduced the amount of pollution-laden runoff that enters the sound." So the food for the whales can grow in number for the whales to eat.

  • vemaurionp-orv
    10/02/2015 - 12:11 p.m.

    that's great how whales reappear back on back in long island sound cause i remember that they was in danger so that's great to hear

  • jamesh-nar
    10/05/2015 - 07:44 p.m.

    Whales from what I've heard are just curious about the boats mostly the sound of the engines.

  • dianner-2-bar
    10/05/2015 - 08:51 p.m.

    The change in the weather caused the whales to reappear by having more rain to reduce the amount of pollution. The article was very interesting. The article was very surprising because i thought that there was a lot of whales and when i read this article i found out that the last time that there were whales in 1993.

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