Whale and dolphin sightings in the Rockaways have increased over the last five years, making American Princess watch and adventure cruises that launching from Riis Landing in Breezy Point the new popular pastime.
Tom Paladino, owner and captain of American Princess Cruises, said the abundance of sightings is due to cleaner waters and an increased food chain.
“There is definitely an increase in bait food called bunker [menhaden] along with sand eels and the mammals go where the food is,” Paladino said. “A possible contributing factor can also be warmer waters and climate change.”
The most common species of whales and dolphins, which have been spotted in the Rockaways, Long Island and the Jersey shore, have been humpback and fin whales and bottlenose and common dolphins, according to Paladino.
“I have been giving four-hour tours for the last seven years to view these mammals in the wild, but the last few weeks there have been multiple whale and dolphin sightings every day and the boat has been packed — it’s amazing,” Paladino said. “Last week there were humpback whales breaching and putting on a terrific show during all our tours and dolphins have been spotted in groups.”
The cruises are scheduled Wednesdays through Sundays from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.