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Expert: More Whale Sightings May Mean Less Pollution In NY Waterways

RYE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- It's a majestic sight -- a living creature, larger than a city bus,  breaching, frolicking in the the water close to shore.

Whale sightings are on the rise in the New York area, with sightings along the Long Island Sound, the ocean beyond the narrows and occasionally along the Hudson River.

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In November, a wayward humpback whale dazzled spectators with binoculars as it swam up the Hudson near the George Washington Bridge, WCBS 880's Sean Adams reported.

In October, several whales were spotted swimming off the shores of Rockaway Beach in Southern Queens, and back in August, a mother and daughter had a close encounter with a 24-foot whale off the Jersey Shore.

Whales have also been returning to the Long Island sound.

The whales are following their stomachs -- searching for fish that thrive in local waters.

"The increase in the fish called bunker. Those are menhaden. Those are fish that everything in the ocean preys upon," Paul Sieswerda, head of the nonprofit research group Gotham Whale, said.

Sieswerda says the recent sightings also points to a decrease in pollution.

"Just visually you can see the improvement in the water quality," he said.

Sieswerda also has a warning for local boaters in the area who may come into close contact with the creatures.

"We see them sometimes with propeller marks on their backs," Sieswerda said. "Approaching a whale closely or heading it off is called harassment, and that is simply against the law."

"See a spout, watch out," he added.



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