Just a quick lunchtime post to introduce you to a website I found out about last week when my friend Harry M. shared this spectacular photo of a humpback whale spyhopping off of the Rockaway Peninsula.
Click here to visit Gotham Whale. Plenty more spectacular where this came from! And no, it's not Photoshop. That question came up right away when I shared the shot with Sebago; I hadn't questioned it because I guessed it to be off Rockaway (the photographer later confirmed that guess) and there have been whale sightings out there (in fact TQ works for the Parks Department and saw one while he was at work on the beach one day), so it seemed plausible to me, but when clubmates started asking, I went to their Facebook page and immediately saw 2 things that convinced me:
1. Artie Raslich seems to be professionally involved with the American Princess whalewatching trips that go out of Riis Park on the Rockaway Peninsula; he's out there almost daily and has taken thousands of beautiful photos. A shot like this struck me as the believable payoff for just being out there with a camera all the time - there are whales doing their thing, there is the NYC skyline in the background, if you are out there watching them long enough the odds are good that sooner or later one of those whales is going to do its thing in a really amazing spot. Also -
2. Paul Sieswerda appeared several times on the Gotham Whale facebook page and turns out to be the creator of Gotham Whale. He used to be at the NYC Aquarium and while there, he the gentleman to whom we paddlers used to report our seal sightings. To quote a New Yorker article tracked down by Carolina at PortSide NewYork (who got involved in the debate and was immediately convinced when I mentioned that Dr. Sieswerda was involved - I think at the point I mentioned it I was pretty sure but not positive that he was the seal guy, so I was happy when Carolina confirmed that), he is "the top expert on the city's seals".
Turns out that he is continuing his studies and as the urban seals have increasingly been joined by dolphins and whales, he's branching out. He's still relying on "citizen scientists" to help collect data; eventually he hopes to have a live reporting form on the site, but for the time being, if local kayakers and other boaters would like to help, visit Gotham Whale's "Talk To Us" page. The more eyes they have on the water, the better!