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Humpback Whales 'Hanging Out' Near The Rockaways

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Humpback whales have been spotted just a few hundred yards from the Queens shoreline, CBS 2's Tamara Leitner reported.

Mike Leonard, his brother and his father were boating off the Rockaways on Friday when they saw four whales, they said.

"It was literally like five feet away," Leonard said. "It was one of the most amazing things I've ever seen in life. It was pretty cool actually.

Humpback Whales 'Hanging Out' Near The Rockaways

"The big 40-footer went underneath our boat, and our boat rocked a little bit," he said.

Dennis Suslak said he has seen whales from his fishing spot in the Rockaways almost every day for the past two weeks.

"It sat there just eating fish for about a half-hour, and he went straight up in the air and breaching and just having a good old time," Suslak said. "He was giving us a show."

Danny McFadden told 1010 WINS' Al Jones: "I've been here since 1980. I've never seen a whale alive on the beach, and every day you come down here around 4 o'clock or 9 in the morning, and you'll see them breaching, jumping out of the water."

"And then all of a sudden, this great big one would come all the way up," a woman told Jones. "He'd open his mouth and slam it shut, and you'd see all the water spurt out. And then he'd flop back in again. It was amazing."

Experts say it is rare, but not unheard of, to see whales swimming near the coast in search of warmer water.

Caterina Panzeca, a marine environmental scientist, said the whales are swimming south, possibly from the Gulf of Maine, on their way to the Caribbean.

The whales might remain in the area for a few more days, as long as they are finding food, she added.

"There's something there, some food sources that they just happened to like, so they're hanging out," Panzeca said.

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