Aquatic Vacationers: Recent Long Island Whale Sightings

Long Island beaches are second to none, drawing the likes of humpback and even beluga whales to our shores during the summer. Like Long Islanders, one of their biggest motivators is the food. Though not as crowded as a bagel shop on Sunday morning, our waters have had some noteworthy aquatic visitors. Do you remember these recent Long Island whale sightings?

Related Content: Recent Long Island Shark Sightings

May 22, 2015

Extremely social and curious by nature, a trio of young beluga whales was spotted in Manhasset Bay off Port Washington and (a few days later) Huntington Harbor and near the former Shoreham power plant. Many onlookers were surprised that animals usually found in the Arctic ventured so far south. Not as shocking: the whales were believed to have followed their food supply here.

September 20, 2015

Not one but three humpback whales were seen in the Long Island Sound slapping their gigantic tails on the waves and jumping out of the water. Experts say humpbacks are an acrobatic species known to breach or throw two-thirds or more of their bodies out of the water to communicate.

July 22, 2016

A large humpback whale breached its head near a fishing boat in the Long Island Sound between the New Rochelle shore and Execution Rocks Light. Boaters reported it was feeding on the baitfish nearby. The following afternoon, the whale was seen headed east toward northern Westchester and Connecticut.

November 4, 2016

A fisher in search of striped bass got a welcome surprise when he spotted a whale’s spout erupting from the waters off the Fire Island Inlet. Of course it was causally lunching on bait fish. FYI: Boaters are instructed to never approach the whales head on. It’s federal law to stay at least 150 feet away from marine mammals like whales.

November 13, 2016

Unfortunately, this sighting doesn’t have a happy ending. A 20-ton humpback whale found its way to the Moriches Bay looking for bunker fish to snack on but got stuck in Hart’s Cove, where the water is only 1-2 feet deep. It grew sicker and thinner and eventually the veterinary team from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) concluded it needed to be euthanized, as its chances for survival were minimal. The situation garnered national headlines and sparked outrage from the public, who believed more could have been done to save the whale.

Are whales making a comeback on Long Island? What can we do to help them? explores that, as well as locals who are keeping beaches clean and serene, next month.