Our Research

Our research team studies the marine mammals in the New York Bight (see figure below). In the last decade and a half, we have recorded the growing numbers of seal, dolphin, and whale sightings.  Since Humpback whales are the species of large whale seen most frequently in our area, our team tracks individual humpbacks using photo identification (photo-ID). Our studies focus on topics including lunge feeding, proximity of marine mammals to urban environments, potential encounters with vessels, and more. Through our Citizen Science WANTED program, anyone who sees a whale, dolphin or seal in New York Bight can report their sighting and help our research initiatives.

Research Publications:

A Preliminary Study on Humpback Whales Lunge Feeding in the New York Bight, United States

Humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) have recently been observed feeding in the New York Bight (NYB), the section of ocean from Montauk, New York to Cape May, New Jersey, United States (US). This feeding technique brings humpback whales to the surface of the water which puts them at a greater risk of vessel strike. Read more...

Potential encounters between humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) and vessels in the New York Bight apex, USA

Vessel collisions contribute significantly to humpback whale injury and mortality. In 2017, an Unusual Mortality Event was declared for the species along the Atlantic Coast of the United States, with many whales exhibiting signs of vessel strike. Though not previously known as a whale dense area, the New York Bight apex has seen an upsurge in both humpback whale sightings and strandings in recent years. Read more...

Humpback whale sightings have been increasing in the New York City area (Brown et al. 2018). Gotham Whale began opportunistically documenting humpback whales in this area in 2011, and currently manages the New York City Humpback Whale Catalog. The NYBA may be an area of increasing use by juvenile humpback whales, notably those with histories in the Gulf of Maine. Individuals were seen at a variety of sites within the New York Bight, suggesting that they likely utilize the entire area, and may exhibit residency during spring, summer, and fall. Extended residency in this area has the potential to increase individual overlap with human activities, possibly leading to a greater risk of human-caused injury and mortality. Read more...

Bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) are commonly reported in the New York and New Jersey Bight yet there is limited data on their distribution to confirm their annual presence in this specific habitat. Several decades of annual surveys across the Atlantic Ocean support year-round occurrence of Bottlenose dolphins in the coastal and offshore waters of the Western New York Bight (WNYB) but a lack of site-specific study effort and fine-scale examinations of populations specific to the New York and New Jersey metropolitan area may hinder efforts to manage and conserve these populations. Read more...
This paper presents data on humpback whale sightings within the New York-New Jersey Harbor Estuary (NYNJHE), a highly urbanized estuarine system adjacent to the northwest portion of the New York Bight. Fieldwork was conducted on board the American Princess, a 29 m whale-watching vessel docked in Rockaway, Queens, New York. Read more...