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Why New York is becoming a whale watcher's paradise

Why New York is becoming a whale watcher's paradise

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New York City is a dense, modern metropolis that offers one of the world's most stunning cityscapes.

The city has recently earned a reputation as a conservation success story, however, due to one of its returning inhabitants: the humpback whale.

After decades of limited sightings, the aquatic animals are reappearing near the Big Apple. And it's not just humpback whales that are coming back.

"You could talk to anybody who's out on the water," Zach Cochrum, representative at the Wildlife Federation, told Circa. "They will say that they've seen far more dolphins in this area than they have in years.

"All of these species, whether it's osprey[s] or whales or eagles. They're following the best food source that they can, and that's Menhaden."

The menhaden, better known locally as bunker, is the bait fish of choice for fishermen in the Atlantic as well as most predatory fish and mammals that live in coastal regions.

"When they're around, a number of species really prefer to prey on them because they have a high nutritional value," Cochrum said.

It makes them popular for reduction fisheries. That's when companies like Omega Protein in Virginia harvest the fish and grind them up to be used as fertilizer, dog food or ingredients in Omega 3 dietary supplements.

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In 2012, the ASMFC placed its first limits on the menhaden industry and the results are already being noticed by wildlife experts.

"You can talk to any number of whale advocates in New York who say that we're seeing far more whales now, since 2012, than we had in the years before," Cochrum said.

"You can talk to any number of whale advocates in New York who say that we're seeing far more whales now, since 2012, than we had in the years before."
Zach Cochrum, Wildlife Federation

The only thing more striking than seeing a whale feeding in open water is having the New York skyline directly behind it.

"It's really a testament to the idea that wildlife and human populations don't have to be at odds," Cochrum said.

"They can live in the same space, as long as we do the right things. We protect water quality and we protect habitats and we don't allow overuse of the resource."

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