By Victoria Vele, Social Media & Water Intern
As many Gowanus residents remember in 2007 a whale by the name of Sludgie made its way into the Gowanus Bay. Sludgie, a baby Minke whale, tragically did not last long in the polluted waters near the Canal. Since then there have only been whale sittings periodically…until now. It is an exciting time in New York when off of the New York Harbor, dolphins, seals, and whales are returning in large numbers. Last year, scientists recorded seeing 6 species of whales including the Humpback, Blue, and Fin whales off the coasts of Staten Island, Coney Island, and the Rockaways. With that, aquatic recreation as increased as well, with whale and dolphin watching boat tours. Sighting this type of marine wildlife in the Harbor is not anything new; however, it is the frequency, numbers, and diversity that’s so impressive.
Sarah Chasis, a staff blogger for the Natural Resource Defense Council, was quick to see the return of whales and other marine life as a huge development and a testament to how far the water quality in New York’s surrounding bays and oceans has come over the past few decades (Chasis, 2011). Water quality is becoming an even more important issue to the city of New York.
PlaNYC has even stated that mitigating new threats to our watershed and enhancing water quality will be one of their highest priorities. Looking into the future, the proposed 2011-2012 budget by Governor Cuomo puts aside $5 million for ocean conservation in an effort to improve marine life and protect the waters around New York. These two governmental plans will provide much need attention to the growing marine life around the harbor. A long with the public’s growing interest in marine life, the New York government has the opportunity to improve and develop the waterfront and activities around the harbor.