A humpback whale was reportedly spotted in Long Island Sound off Orient Saturday afternoon.
Paul Gertner of Orient told The Suffolk Times that his family was at Youngs Road Beach when his son shouted that he saw a fin out in the water.
“We quickly realized in amazement we were seeing a whale,” he wrote in an email.
The whale was about 400 yards off shore, breaching every 20 to 25 seconds, and traveling west to east, he said. A boat traveling in the same direction passed north of the whale and “kept a respectful distance,” he said.
Whale sightings in Long Island Sound have increased in recent years, according to Rob DiGiovanni, a biologist with the Atlantic Marine Conservation Society. He said five years ago a whale sighting would have been a rare occurrence, but with an increase in humpback whale population as well as an increase in available food in the area, the local sightings have increased.
Multiple media outlets in Connecticut reported a whale sighting last Friday closer to the Connecticut shore, the day before it was spotted near Orient.
Should someone see a whale, Mr. DiGiovanni advised people to stay back — people should stay 50 yards away from a healthy marine animal and 500 yards away from a whale — and call the Atlantic Marine Conservation Society at (631) 317-0030 or visit their website to report the animal. There were no reports to the Atlantic Marine Conservation Society about the whale over the past weekend, but representatives confirmed the photo appeared to show a humpback whale.
If a whale appears to be in distress, calls should be directed to (631) 369-9829.
Photo caption: The whale, just slightly popping through the water here, was spotted Saturday in Long Island Sound. (Courtesy photo)