A trio of young beluga whales spotted last week off the North Shore of western Long Island appears to be swimming eastbound in the Long Island Sound, possibly back to Canadian waters.
The whales were seen May 22 in Manhasset Bay off Port Washington, then in Huntington Harbor and most recently, near the former Shoreham power plant on Tuesday, according to reports and marine biologists. Beluga sightings are rare this far south off the Eastern Seaboard. The whales are reportedly believed to have followed their food supply here.
“The animals appear healthy and not injured,” said Mendy Garron, the marine mammal response Northeast regional coordinator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Fisheries Service. She added that they are “being monitored very closely.”
The whales, thought to be in their teens, were first found along Rhode Island near Narragansett Bay on May 10. Then they swam past Connecticut before venturing along Long Island for about a week.
Garron believes the whales originated from the St. Lawrence River in Canada—about 900 miles away.
Called the “canaries of the sea” for their trills and whistles, Beluga whales are extremely social and curious creatures known for their porcelain white appearance and bubbly smiles. Many Long Islanders have already spotted the trio and are surprised that animals usually found in the Arctic have ventured so far south.
Although many people may wish to interact with the whales, boaters who happen upon the trio are urged to stay at least 150 feet away from them for their safety and to prevent the animals from becoming stressed out and getting hit by a vessel. Boaters should also turn off their engines so that the whales, which lurk near the surface, aren’t hit by propellers.
Beluga whales have a lifespan of up to 50 years, typically grow to about 13-feet long and weigh 3,100 pounds on average.