RIP #NYC0159, looks like you had a hard life.

November 19, 2019


When a Humpback Whale dies and washes up on a beach anywhere up and down the East Coast, there might be a chance that Gotham Whale has a record of sighting/s of that whale. Now let’s be real, there are MANY Humpback Whales out there. What are the chances we have seen and documented the whale that has died, SLIM? But still, there is a chance! When the whale lands on a LI beach the odds go up!

A 28ft dead emaciated female Humpback Whale washed up on a Southampton beach on Nov 14th. After looking at the two posted photos via AMCS's Social Media outlets it was determined that GW has seen this Humpback on a few occasions over the 2019 whale watching season. A number was given to this female Humpback whale, and it is known as #NYC0159, in the New York City Humpback Whale Catalog. #NYC0159 was seen in 2019 on 6/16, 6/20, 6/22, 7/05 and 9/28. 

I remember seeing #NYC0159 for the first time on June 16th, 2019 off Sandy Hook. I was on the American Princess Cruises Whale and Dolphin Watch and it was a quick encounter. I saw the back of the whale; it was really beat up. It looked like this whale was in a serious entanglement and escaped or was disentangled. It had wounds on its black body, healed white, showing scars everywhere. It was spotted a few times after that on June 20th, 22nd, July 5th and Sept 28th whale watches. I was out on the AP on the July 5th whale watch when we met up with NYC0159 feeding in Raritan Bay going into Sandy Hook Bay right by the Naval Weapons Station Earl. The whale was feeding close to a docked Naval Ship and the whale lunge fed its way around the front by the bulbous bow of that Navy vessel. Naval Weapons Station Earle is a restricted area. The whale can go there but we can’t. While watching #NYC0159 we saw another whale in Raritan Bay and went to take photos of that whale.

The New York City Humpback Whale Catalog team, including Paul Sieswerda – Director of GW has provided the dates we have seen #NYC0159 whale. Celia Ackerman – Naturalist extraordinaireDanielle Brown - Lead Humpback Whale researcher for Gotham Whale, and myself, identified #NYC0159 via its dorsal fin. YES, we do need the fluke photo for IDing a whale but other markings on the whale’s body and the dorsal fin work well for IDing also. Having them all: fluke, dorsal and body markings, complete the IDing package but not having a fluke is not a deal breaker!

Therefore, Citizen Science is so important to Gotham Whale! We have a program called “Wanted!” You take a photo of a whale off NYC, Long Island and NJ (it’s not just NYC). You go to the website and fill out all the information, it's detailed and all information requested is needed. We take that detailed information and use it for our NYCHW catalog and other uses! It’s all for documenting the whales in the western NY Bight. Read up here –

The above is a small part of what we do at Gotham Whale. GW is an all-volunteer non-profit citizen scientist organization running solely on donations and no one gets a “paycheck." To be honest, we do not take in or raise much money. Most of the GW workers are using their own money to get things done. If you’re thinking of donating to a non-profit origination, please think about Gotham Whale in the future or right now by going here and becoming a:



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#NYC0159, looks like you had a hard life, RIP.

UPDATE Via Photos on the bottom of the page 11-20-19 10:05am.   

UPDATE - I went back and looked at July 5th photos that I didn't process and share because of them being of low quality. I do keep all crappy photos for situations like this! NYC0159 was seen and photographed doing a breach on this day. In the crappy photo, I can make out the markings on the tip of the right Pectoral fin. The same exact markings are on the right pectoral fin of the dead whale that was photographed and shared on social media by AMCS. This is very good information, it shows the whale was active via a breach and was feeding. We could not confirm with 100% acuracy if this was NYC0159 in the breach but with the cross examination of photos it is a match. We were with NYC0159 from 136pm to 217pm on July 5th.   


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