You’ve probably heard reports, or seen viral videos, of whales swimming in the waters around New York. Now there’s a fun new way for you to see the majestic mammals in person.
Seastreak, the high-speed ferry company based in Highlands, NJ, will offer whale-watching cruises departing directly from Manhattan starting May 8. The new cruises, which depart from the public ferry docks at East 35th St and the Battery Maritime Building, will last three hours, providing ample opportunity to spot whales and other marine life.
“We are confident that our customers will see wildlife,” Abby van Hemmen, Seastreak’s Whale Watch program manager, said in a statement. “Last season we saw humpback whales on 96% of our trips, but the diversity of marine life we encountered really surprised me. We saw sea turtles, sunfish, birds pelagics, dolphins, sharks and massive pods of migrating cownose rays.The abundance of life in these waters is truly a testament to years of effort by environmental groups to restore the ecosystem. whale watching tours in this area would not have been possible.
While you’ll likely be scanning the waters for the duration of the cruise to snap that perfect Instagram shot, the shipboard experience will also offer plenty of comfort with luxury seating, fully stocked bars and TV screens displaying a relevant educational content. Meanwhile, the upper deck offers a 360 degree panoramic view of the ocean.
During the cruise, passengers will also pass local landmarks on land, including the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Governors Island, Staten Island, and Fort Hamilton. In order to provide an additional level of security, vessel capacity will be limited to 50%.
While whales were once plentiful around New York, commercial whaling has drastically reduced the population along the eastern seaboard. Thanks to the banning of this practice, as well as environmental legislation like the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Endangered Species Act, whales are increasingly returning to the area.
“The positive impact these visits could have on local conservation efforts is important to us,” said James D. Barker, director of business development and marketing for Seastreak. “That’s why we decided to participate in the Whale SENSE program sponsored by NOAA Fisheries and Whale and Dolphin Conservation. The program provides training for our crew and naturalists so that we can properly educate our passengers and set a good example of responsible whale watching. We are the first company to operate whale watching tours from Manhattan, so we intend to set high standards.
Beginning May 8, Seastreak plans to offer one tour per day beginning at 10 a.m. until November 28. Tickets are $55 for adults and $30 for children 12 and under. Discounts are available for seniors and groups.
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