The Long Island Sun Chasers arranged for a group outing with Gotham Whale on the American Princess out of Breezy Point today. If you have never spent the afternoon with them looking for whales and dolphins within sight of New York City I highly recommend it. I have been out about 5 times with them and featured a few of last year’s trips here and here.
The forecast was for a chance of rain and a stiff breeze out of the North East but with excellent visibility and some recent whale reports everybody was pumped.
We pushed off the dock at Riis Landing in Breezy Point at Noon with about 40 sun chasers and another 30 or so regular customers. The American Princess is a big, clean and comfortable 95 footer that can hold up to 250 passengers so getting a spot to relax or shoot is never a problem. Another unique aspect to these trips is you never leave the New York City backdrop, even if the whales don’t cooperate you will still end up with some unique shots of the city from some new angles.
On all my prior trips, it normally takes a while to find the whales but today we ran into a large Humpback less than 30 minutes from the dock with Coney Island as a backdrop. Gotham Whale catalogs each whale by unique markings on the Fluke and Artie Raslich (Gotham’s Photographer), immediately determined this was a new whale.
At the same time a large tugboat and barge approached the whale but slowed down, gave a wide berth, and passed without incident. Ship strikes are a big problem for Humpbacks and it was nice to see a captain handle a whale encounter in a responsible manner. Once the Tugboat passed we waited for the whale to appear again. They can dive for up to a half hour but according to Catherine Granton, an onboard naturalist, local humpbacks average around 5 minutes before surfacing.
Moments later we had our closest encounter of the day as the whale surfaced with a loud blow right next to the boat, scaring the crap out of most of us!
We stayed with this whale and a group of Bottlenose Dolphins for the rest of the afternoon. Just before we had to call it a day, the storms that had threatened all day finally overtook us with a brief rain shower.
Due to the poor lighting and some missed shots I didn’t get any whale shots that I was proud of but still had a great time. The trips will be running for the rest of the fall season, please visit the Gotham Whale website for more information!
This post was adapted from a blog, read the original here