A whale spotted in the East River in New York on New Year's Eve was believed to be a humpback. A whale was also spotted off Belmar on New Year's Day.
Whales ring in the new year at the Jersey Shore and in the East RiverBy Kelly Heyboer | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
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on January 01, 2017 at 4:36 PM, updated January 01, 2017 at 4:51 PM
One of the world's largest mammals rang in the new year in the chilly waters of New York and New Jersey.
A large whale, believed to be a humpback, was spotted surfacing and spraying water out of its blowhole in the East River near Gracie Mansion on New Year's Eve, according to the New York Police Department.
Photos of the whale were posted on the NYPD's Twitter account.
"Even the wildlife want to ring in #NYE2017 in #NYC," the NYPD Special Operations unit posted on its Twitter page.
Another whale sighting was reported off the Jersey Shore Sunday morning. It is unclear if it was the same humpback from the East River heading south or another whale.
Bill McKim, a Jersey Shore-based artist and photographer, said he spotted the whale off the coast of Belmar around 11 a.m.
McKim posted photos on his Twitter account of a whale spraying water in the far distance. The whale appeared to be heading south. There were similar sightings in Long Branch about a half hour earlier, he said.
The New Year's whale sightings come after an unusually high number of whales have been spotted in and near New York Harbor over the last few months, experts say.
It is unusual for whales to be this far north in January, retired marine biologist Paul Sieswerda told the Guardian Saturday.
"Humpbacks would normally be heading for the warm waters of the Dominican Republic," said Sieswerda, who leads the New York-based volunteer marine wildlife tracking group Gotham Whale.
U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer Frank Iannazzo-Simmons said the Coast Guard usually notifies mariners when it spots whales in busy waterways to be safe and "let the whale be the whale.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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