New York’s marine waters are home to various marine life, including large whales. Whales are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, and boaters must stay at least 500 yards (1,500 feet) away from North Atlantic right whales and at least 100 yards from all other whales.
If a whale approaches you, remember to idle your engine and not to re-engage power until the whale has cleared your path. Attempting to leave the area may interrupt natural behaviors such as feeding, nursing, resting, and traveling, or could result in a vessel strike causing harm to the whale and/or boat. For more information visit, NOAA’s Marine Life Viewing Guidelines.
Effective from November 1 through April 30, NOAA Fisheries requires all vessels 65 feet or longer to travel at 10 knots or less in certain locations identified as Seasonal Management Areas. The purpose of these regulations is to reduce the likelihood of deaths and serious injuries to whales resulting from collisions with vessels. Vessels of all sizes are encouraged to help protect right whales by slowing to 10 knots of less within active SMAs as well.
Report all sightings of marine mammals or sea turtles to DEC by using our Flipper Files digital survey. If you suspect a marine mammal or sea turtle is sick or injured, please call the New York Stranding Hotline at 631-369-9829 to report the animal.
Photo of Humpback whales feeding by Nicole Starkweather.