Will New York City be the next hub for whale watching?
Scientists at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in Ithaca, New York set up a series of microphones around Long Island in the New York Harbor in 2008 and 2009, designed to detect the ballads of six different whale species.
What they reported this past week is surprising. There were many more whales in the region than they thought, and they were a lot closer. Some cruised as close as 10 miles from New York City. They detected "right whales" as close as 70 miles to shore, closer than scientists previously believed the whales to swim.
Overall, the greatest surprise was the number of whales in the region. Cornell professor Christopher Clark estimated taht there might be as many as 50 "fin whales" living off the shore of New York City at any given time. The fin whale is second only in size to the blue whale.
The aim of the study is to better determine how human noise affects the whales in the long term. Some scientists, like Clark, hypothesize that increased boat traffic has made it harder for the whales to communicate to one another.