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Humpback Whale Seen Near George Washington Bridge and Staten Island Ferry

By  Ben Fractenberg and Kathleen Culliton | November 18, 2016 4:27pm 

 A humpback whale was seen near the George Washington Bridge on Friday afternoon, witnesses said.
A humpback whale was seen near the George Washington Bridge on Friday afternoon, witnesses said.
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DNAinfo/Ben Fractenberg

MANHATTAN — A whale was spotted near the Staten Island Ferry Friday morning and by the George Washington Bridge Friday afternoon, just one day after boaters reported a whale swimming near the Statue of Liberty, according to witnesses and the Department of Transportation.

Joe Shaw, 37, who is visiting New York from Texas with his family, was walking along the Hudson River under the George Washington Bridge around 3 p.m. when he saw something in the water.

“I yelled for them to look,”  Shaw said, telling his family he had just seen a whale in the water. “They all said I’m crazy.”

But when the whale resurfaced moments later, the whole family was able to see it dive. Shaw said they felt "just awe" and called the experience "amazing.”

Several fisherman along the waterway also said they had seen what appeared to be a whale Friday afternoon.

The whale was caught on camera earlier on Friday morning from the Staten Island Ferry and near Pier 11 .

And the first sighting occurred Thursday morning near Liberty Island in New York Harbor and was filmed by Instagram user Daniel Gallagher, who dubbed the humpback "Fudgey."



A video posted by Daniel Gallagher (@dgallagher105) on

Whale expert Paul Sieswerda of Gotham Whales, an organization that tracks whale activity along the New York City coastline, believes these have all been sightings of the same whale because pods — or herds — are seldom seen in the Hudson.

“It’s unlikely whales are in and around the harbor,” said Sieswerda. “I’m going to say it’s the same whale.”

While Sieswerda believes the sightings to be of a single humpback whale, he will not be able to confirm it until he captures a picture of the fluke — the underside of the tale that has a unique black and white pattern that serves as a fingerprint.

Anyone who has taken a photo of "Fudgey" can send it to Gotham Whales, along with contact information and details on the sighting, and receive a voucher for a free beer via Gotham Whale.

There are two possible reasons that the whale has traveled upriver, according to Sieswerda. Either the whale has been drawn to the area for the bunker — a forage fish that has seen a large population growth this year — or something less pleasant is going on. 

“The pessimistic explanation is it’s an indication that something is wrong with him, that he’s sick or injured,” said Sieswerda.

“But I’m hopeful that it’s a feeding.”