NEW YORK – Over the past decade, scientists have noticed a resurgence in marine mammal activity in the waters around and near New York City: visits from humpback whales, dolphins and even a seal or two.
Now, a company known for its high-speed commuter ferries is set to launch whale-watching cruises that depart directly from Manhattan.
After what it called a “successful first season” of whale-watching tours launched from New Jersey, Seastreak will offer a three-hour tour departing from the public ferry docks at East 35th Street in Midtown and picking up passengers at the Battery Maritime Building in Lower Manhattan.
The tour itinerary takes the ship out of New York Harbor, past the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Governors Island, Staten Island, and Fort Hamilton. The catamaran then passes under the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge, heads out into the Atlantic Ocean and aims for the tip of Sandy Hook in the Gateway National Recreation Area.
A humpback whale seen from a Seastreak whale watching cruise. (Photo courtesy of Seastreak)
Abby van Hemmen, Seastreak’s whale watching program manager, said she was “confident” that passengers will in fact see the wildlife.
“Last season we saw humpback whales on 96% of our trips, but the diversity of marine life we encountered really surprised me,” van Hemmen said. “We saw sea turtles, sunfish, pelagic birds, dolphins, sharks and massive groups of migrating cownose rays.”
Seastreak plans to hold dozens of tours from Saturday, May 8 through Sunday, November 28, 2021. Tickets are $55 for adults and $30 for children 12 and under.
“The abundance of life in these waters is truly a testament to years of effort by environmental groups to restore the ecosystem,” van Hemmen said. “A few years ago, whale watching trips to this area would not have been possible.”