Giant Bluefin Tuna breaching, 5 whales, dolphin, cownose rays...WHAT A DAY!
Went out on the American Princess with Gotham Whale for a double header whale and dolphin watch and it was spectacular. I need to say, I am out on the water whale watching a lot. It is an amazing sight to see whales and dolphins here in NYC, just amazing. But I am jaded. A great day for me is seeing the madness of an acrobatic humpback whale, like tail throws, breaches, pectoral fin slapping, lunge feeding with bunker flying everywhere…that’s the ticket! Just seeing whales is awesome, but I like the action. Sometimes while whale watching you see marine mammals, birds, and fish you never would expect.
Conditions were great on this day! Light winds, 1-2ft waves with a glassy sheen on the surface (no chop), bright sunshine, clear water, no humidity. These conditions are perfect for seeing “into” the water close to the boat. When it's choppy, it’s hard to clearly see (and photograph) what is in the water.
The whale watch started off fast with a small pod of dolphins; they were playing. When they saw the AP they beelined it over to us and started riding the wake. This is always a great sight, one of my favorite sights with dolphins. They played in the wake as we moved on looking for humpbacks. When in transit, on a day like this I am always looking down into the water. So many Cownose Rays (maybe Bullnose Rays…I DON’T KNOW!) were in the area! I saw a few cownose rays breaching- that was nice and unexpected.
Looking out on the horizon we saw a few blows and then we were on a pair of humpbacks; the whale watch was on. We stayed with the whales for a while, but they were in transit mode. They did a tandem lunge feeding but mostly they were moving. We saw a few more blows and went to see the other whale that just came into view. We met up with the whale, which was also in transit; not feeding, just taking breaths and fluking. BTW - The breath of the whales we met up with was disgusting…DISGUSTING! With the light winds on the water, their blow or “breath” carries on the wind. If you're down wind, the cloud of whale breath hits you right in your face and it’s an experience. What does whale breath smell like? ROTTEN FISH! Think 5-day old bunker sitting in a bucket outside in the sun and times that by 10.
While this was all going on, I still had my eyes out for sharks and other things, and you never know what you will see. I am following the humpback, camera ready. I look to the shore (Jersey shore, we were off Jersey) and see something do a violent breach. It was amazing! At first, I thought it was a great white breaching- it was a very big fish. There was only one breach and it happened so fast, I was camera ready and took my shots, but I did not know if I got the shot. I was so busy going nuts, yelling, and screaming over what I just saw, it was crazy! So excited I got to see something like that with others.
I look at the series of photos, not a Great White. I see a crescent shaped tail and think Yellowfin Tuna. I look at the next photo, it looks like a Bluefin Tuna. I go to the next one and I see the whole fish. It is a Giant Blue Fin Tuna doing a FULL BREACH. 100% all of the tuna was out of the water! WOW, I just saw that, and it was a mile or two off the beach! The second-best photo I have ever taken!
This day was incredible! I can not wait to go out on the American Princess all-day whale watch coming up on Sept 17th and Oct 1st. These trips are where I thought I would see something like this happen, who knew it would be a mile or so off the coast. WHAT A DAY!
Lori Gash Bernstein(non-registered)
Your shots were fantastic!! I am jealous! I would love to go whale watching again. I have done it out of Cape Cod, many times, Florida Keys, San Diego and Hawaii.
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