Here's a question New Yorkers don't get to ask themselves a lot: "Was that a freaking whale I just saw?"
Besides the big blue one at the Natural History Museum, New York City and its surrounding rivers are not exactly known for having a large population of whales. But things started to get interesting, when the U.S. Coast Guard was flooded with dozens of reports of whale sightings in the Hudson River.
Dr. Rachel Dubroff, who lives in a 63rd Street apartment overlooking the Hudson, told the New York Times that she's seen — or thinks she's seen — a humpback whale hanging out in the Hudson for two years.
Turns out, she wasn't mistaken.
It's now been confirmed that a humpback whale has taken up residence in New York's Hudson River.
“We received the first reports on Wednesday, Nov. 9,” Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Jason Moritz said in a news release. “We’ve had multiple daily sightings since then throughout the harbor and up the Hudson River.”
The Coast Guard is urging all boats on the Hudson to slow down and keep an eye out for more.
You're probably thinking: What's a whale doing in the Hudson River? Well, that's even cooler.
In the 35 years since the Clean Water Act was passed, the Hudson has become a cleaner and healthier habitat for a variety of fish — fish that are super delicious if you're a whale.
When the weather gets cold, whales migrate and look for warm, safe waters with plentiful fish to eat.
"The whales found this spot as a feeding ground,” Paul Sieswerda, president of Gotham Whale, which tracks marine life around the city, told the New York Times. “Rather than go all the way up to Massachusetts and Maine, they’ve found a good feeding ground right here in New York.”
As conservation efforts continue, even more whale sightings are likely in the coming years.
"30 years ago you’d see maybe one whale off of Long Island a season," Chuck Bowman, of the Riverhead Foundation, told the New York Times. "Now you see them all the time. ... You get a bigger population and you get a greater chance of things like this happening."
It's hard to say if the cleaner waters are directly responsible for the whale's appearance in the Hudson, however, as CBS reports: "Although most experts agree water conditions have improved in the river in the 35 years since the passage of the Clean Water Act, they weren’t willing to say that the visit from the humpback had a direct correlation."
The Hudson whale is a delight for New Yorkers and a significant win for conservationists.
Their hard work has made the waters around New York a vibrant and clean ecosystem for a huge variety of marine life. This year alone, there have been over 100 whale sightings in New York and New Jersey, and scientists are expecting more.
Let's just hope they don't start taking the subway.