By Mike Busch
The herding operation coordinated by the Atlantic Marine Conservation Society has been called off for the day. The Humpback Whale that has spent the last 10 days or so on the wrong side of the Atlantic Beach Bridge could not be found anywhere in Reynolds Channel or connecting waterways. Below is the updated press release provided by AMCS as of 4:00 p.m.
This will be the last update for this event. During today’s operations, Reynolds Channel and the back-bay areas were surveyed extensively to relocate the whale. Survey efforts were conducted by vessels, land based stations, and aerial surveys. During survey operations between 7 and 11:30 a.m. there were no reports or sightings of the whale. Reports were received of several whales outside of the channel off of Long Beach. Biologists collected photographs and data on four individual animals, and will use these data for comparison to the animal observed inside the channel.
Herding operations will stand down, and AMCS remains on standby for future reports. The team is optimistic that the whale has returned to open water, and will continue to work with local partners to monitor the whale population in New York’s coastal waters.
AMCS and NOAA Fisheries extend gratitude to collaborating partners during this effort: New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Town of Hempstead Bay Constables, International Fund for Animal Welfare, The US Coast Guard Station Jones Beach, Nassau County Marine Bureau, Nassau County Police Department, North Carolina State University, Wildlife Conservation Society, Operation Splash, Gotham Whale, and The Nature Conservancy.
I just spoke with Carl Lobue of the Nature Conservancy who was part of the volunteer rescue effort and participated in the debrief at 2:00 p.m. Carl noted that he was impressed with the coordination and planning that went into the entire operation. Unlike last year’s saga in Moriches, this time it was all hands on deck with great coordination between multiple agencies and the public volunteers. At one point the Nassau Police Helicopter helped out in locating 6 different whales outside the inlet. A Coast Guard boat then headed out to take some photos so perhaps they can shortly get the confirmation that “Reynolds” is definitely free.
While it may be too soon to celebrate, the news today can only be considered good, hopefully Reynolds can get back to feeding on Menhaden and continue on his or her migration to warmer waters for the Winter.
I want to thank Fire Island and Beyond contributor Trish Minogue Collins for travelling to the scene this morning and capturing some images of the operation in action below.
More images on Page 2