Long Island’s history with whales likely dates back to the 1600s when, according to sparse artifacts such as engravings, Native Americans hunted whales that swam close to shore. Long Islanders went on to pioneer whaling in the Northeast, opening ports in Sag Harbor, Greenport and Cold Spring Harbor. The whale was like a buffalo. It had multiple purposes—food, oil, tool-making.
Though the International Whaling Commission banned almost all whaling in 1986, our shores had appeared void of the sea mammals for about half a century. But last July, two humpbacks were repeatedly spotted in the Long Island Sound, prompting media and beachgoers to wonder if whales were navigating local waters more often. Robert A. DiGiovanni, the founder and chief scientist of Atlantic Marine Conservation Society would get word of a few sightings per year. Since 2014, it has gotten a few per week, mostly in New York Harbor, the Long Island Sound and the South Shore of Long Island.
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