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New Film + Biophilic Cities Journal Vol. 3, No. 2 Article Preprint
Gotham Whale Film from Biophilic Cities
Gotham Whale: Sighting and Tracking Sea Mammals Along Northeastern City Coastlines
By Paul Sieswerda
"The whales are coming to me...," or at least that is how it seems. Since my retirement in 2009, I had been working with the American Princess, a tour boat out of Rockaway, Queens. I served as a naturalist on winter cruises to see the seals on Swinburne Island, a small haul-out about a mile east of Staten Island's South Beach. This was a nice way to stay connected to marine mammals, an interest of mine throughout my career at both the New England and the New York Aquariums.  Each year, the number of seals increased, and it was a fun activity without many demands. All that changed in 2010 when the captains of the American Princess began to get reports of whales during the summer. "Whadayasay we try some whale cruises next year?" they asked. "OK," says I, and with that, the course of Gotham Whale was charted. 

2011 was a year of "adventure cruises" - "adventures" because we didn't know if we would see a whale or not. Over the entire summer we had but three sightings, for a total of five whales seen - a sighting is from one place at one time and can include more than one whale. The American Princess is a commercial operation that, like a taxicab, needs paying customers to make a living and uncertain whale sightings do not make a profitable business plan. However, the customers were happy enough because dolphin sightings filled in the gaps, and the rare sighting of a whale with the skyline of Manhattan in the background was special enough to give the captains hope. Being fishermen, they knew that next year might be better. And it was, more than double, and the year thereafter, more than double that. And so on. We knew whales were coming back to NYC!

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Paul Sieswerda is the Executive Director for Gotham Whale,
learn more at
Image Credit: Issac Kohane
Copyright ? 2020 Biophilic Cities, All rights reserved.

University of Virginia
PO Box 400122
Charlottesville, Va 22904

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