To study, advocate for, and educate about the whales and marine mammals of New York City, through Citizen Science. As the largest city in the United States, New York has a long heritage of maritime history. From colonial times its waters have been exploited, depleting its fisheries and diminishing its population of marine mammals. Recently, the efforts of regulators, environmental groups, and New York citizens have greatly improved the conditions of the Hudson River and waters in and around New York Harbor. With these improvements, the biological food chain has rebounded, supporting a diverse ecology, from oysters to whales. The waters of New York now are a feeding ground for seals, dolphins, and whales.
Gotham Whale intends to inform and contribute to the public knowledge as whales meet New Yorkers. The juxtaposition of wild populations of marine mammals; seals, dolphins, and whales, with the millions of people that inhabit The City, can be the source of intriguing knowledge, incredible enjoyment, and sometimes, tragic disruption. Gotham Whale will be a source of education, advocacy, and science for the inhabitants of New York, terrestrial and marine.
Citizen Science is a movement to include average citizens in scientific research allowing them to make systematic observations, to collect and process data, and provide general support for scientific study. The Audubon Society’s Christmas Bird Count, running since 1900, is an excellent example. Gotham Whale will emulate that model with the vast citizen pool that is New York City. The whale watching activities of the American Princess and other boatmen provide a platform to collect data and make observations. The many eyes of the pubic make sightings more probable. Gotham Whale will serve as a depository for that data. Participants provide photographs of the flukes of humpback whales that have unique patterns, serving as individual identification markings much as fingerprints do in humans. These data will be combined, evaluated, and shared with the scientific community through publications, cooperative studies, and the New York Humpback Whale Catalog. By working closely with other concerned organizations, Gotham Whale will contribute to the improving health of New York’s marine environment, for the betterment of both humans and whales.