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Welcome to The Gam, the quarterly newsletter for Gotham Whale, where you’ll find news, information, and fun content relating to the whales of New York City!


Another Great Season of Whale Watching!

2022 was a truly incredible year of whale sightings in the Western New York Bight! We added over 50 new whales to the New York City Humpback Whale Catalog (NYCHWC), bringing us to around 300 individually identified whales in our area since Gotham Whale started the NYCHWC in 2011. And we’ve already added our first new whale of 2023!

(Happy whale watchers on board the American Princess in summer 2022; photo credit: Artie Raslich)

Over the course of the season we got to observe a wonderful array of behaviors, from breaching to lunge feeding to tail lobbing… and more!

(Humpback whale lunge feeding; photo credit: Artie Raslich)

Additionally, we had three dozen returning whales, including NYC0226, our 2021 calf, returning to our waters as an independent juvenile this year. NYC0226 was seen multiple times this season, often swimming and feeding with other whales. And of course, we were lucky to have multiple sightings of “Jerry,” aka NYC0011, always a local favorite!

(NYC0226; photo credit: Beth Anne Miller)

Our partner the American Princess has been adding more and more special trips each year. They started out 2023 with an all-day Pelagic Bird and Marine Wildlife trip on January 14th. It was a cold, blustery, gray day on the water, with light flurries for most of the day and a strong north wind that stirred up six-foot swells and made for an interesting two-hour ride home. We were bundled up to the eyeballs, but the sold-out crowd that braved the tough conditions seemed to be having a great time! There were thousands of birds sighted, including hundreds of gannets and various species of gulls, scoters, loons, and many others. Some of the more exciting bird sightings included razorbills, a kittiwake, a Pacific loon, common murres, and even a great blue heron!

(Northern Gannet (and snow flurries); photo credit: Beth Anne Miller)

Cetacean sightings included a brief glimpse of a fin whale, some small pods of common dolphins, and fleeting looks at humpback whale spouts before we finally got a nice view of a humpback whale as we were returning to port, the elusive sun making just enough of an appearance to cast a lovely golden light on the whale. It was a frigid day, but a lot of fun to be out there!

(Humpback whale seen on January 14th trip; photo credit: Artie Raslich)

The whale watching season is on a winter hiatus, but we’re counting the days until the 2023 season starts this spring, with at least one new whale already added to the catalog! The American Princess also runs seal watching cruises on Sundays in January, which you can read more about here. For news about special trips like the Pelagic Bird and Marine Wildlife trips, and updates on the upcoming whale watching season, check out American Princess Cruises’ website and follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Science at Sea with Gotham Whale

Photos and text by Dr. Merryl Kafka, Director of Education, Gotham Whale
What better way to “marinate” your students than with a total immersion into a marine biology curriculum onboard the American Princess with Gotham Whale!

(Students determining dissolved oxygen in a water sample)

With the generous support of Con Edison of the Staten Island division, the Harbor View School and the Marsh Avenue Expeditionary School partnered with Gotham Whale for a rich infusion of marine biology. During the past year school programs were delivered via zoom on several topics about whale research and the biology and adaptations of whales, fish, and marine invertebrates. After a two-year wait for the final culmination of Science at Sea on board the American Princess, the students, teachers, and parents were all ship-shape and ready for this adventure.

(Students investigating the plankton world)

The vessel was turned into a floating classroom for over 130 eager and excited students, with six hands-on stations: Navigation, Plankton Investigations, Fish Diversity, Invertebrate Zoology, Whales, and Physical/Chemical Oceanography. Every 25 minutes, small groups of students rotated to another station. All activity ceased as soon as Captain Tom spotted pods of playful Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphins leaping and spinning out of the water.

(Comparing body parts at the Fish Diversity station)

Although we did not find humpback whales, which are the focus of Gotham Whale’s research, the frolicking dolphins made up for it. Perhaps the cooler temperature and rain the week prior signaled the whales to go further out to sea, or begin their winter migration to the Caribbean, where they mate and give birth. Finding whales is no easy task, and humpbacks were only recently removed from the Endangered Species List. They are still, however, a threatened species and protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act. Collisions with ships, entanglement with ghost (loose) fishing lines, marine debris, and plastics are some of the dangers that marine mammals and other ocean dwellers such as fish, turtles, and birds also face.

(Atlantic bottlenose dolphins)

Teachers make all professions possible and although the first week of May is designated as National Teacher Appreciation Week, I always appreciated my teachers. On this special day, I had some of the best marine biology teachers jump onboard to help. I was proud to announce to the students that one of my on-board volunteers, Lou Siegel, was my marine biology teacher 50 years ago! And I am still learning his crafty skills.

(Lou Siegel introduces the secchi disk to determine light penetration)

Our plankton expert, Bob Cummings, was my Senior Instructor at the NY Aquarium for over 25 years; Kristi Collom is Gotham Whale’s Dolphin Researcher; Mitch Steinhardt is staff on board the American Princess and a GW naturalist. Ned Black, also a veteran marine bio teacher and awesome volunteer, came equipped with all the instruments for water-quality monitoring. Professor of Biology from Kingsborough Community College Dr. Christina Colon volunteered at the whale station. I was grateful that dedicated educators were awhaleable to make this Science at Sea program a great learning adventure for our partners in education.

(Kristi Collom (r) investigating sea stars and other invertebrates with students)

(Dr. Christina Colon shows how whale tails are used to identify individual whales)


Meet Gotham Whale!

Meet Gotham Whale’s Membership Manager, Bonnie Crawford!
Bonnie Crawford has been managing our membership program since 2019. It is a task that demands accurate accounting to keep track of the membership subscriptions, sending out thank yous for joining and bumper stickers to our members, and giving instructions for claiming member benefits for cruises on the American Princess. Gotham Whale Director Paul Sieswerda states frequently, “I don’t have to worry about a thing. I forward the notice from PayPal to Bonnie, and it’s done!”


(Bonnie Crawford)

Bonnie and Paul attended Union College together and reconnected after many years. Bonnie embraces Gotham Whale, and looks to help in any way. Her background in customer service at Kentucky Utilities and Ephraim McDowell Hospital helps her field questions and relate to Gotham Whale’s Members. Bonnie loves to help and has found a niche helping Gotham Whale. She says, “It makes me proud to be part of the team.” And we're really happy to have you, Bonnie!

New Gotham Whale Board Member!

Gotham Whale is pleased to welcome Dr. Joy S. Reidenberg, PhD to the GW Board! You can read more about Joy and her work in the October 2022 issue of The Gam.

(Dr. Joy S. Reidenberg, PhD)


Gotham Whale in the News

As you’ve probably heard, there have been a number of large whale strandings on New York and New Jersey beaches over the last two months. Gotham Whale’s Director Paul L. Sieswerda gives some insight into these unfortunate, sad deaths to

“A Whale of a Night” in Support of Gotham Whale!


 (Gotham Whale Director Paul Sieswerda (l) with restauranteur Paul Solano)

It began as a “bright idea” when PJ, the son of Gotham Whale’s founder, Paul Sieswerda, saw the news report that Pete Davidson and Kim Kardashian had moved into the complex where Gotham Whale is housed. “Dad,” he said, “just get on the elevator and give Davidson the pitch on supporting your organization. I know some comedians in the Boston area, and we can do a road trip “joke off” about how the Red Sox are better than the Yankees, the Patriots are better than the Giants, and our whales are better than your whales!” Lots of material for a comedy routine that could support Gotham Whale with BIG celebrity money.  

(Boston comedian Dave Russo)

 Well, not so simple, Davidson was protected by bodyguards, so there were no elevator pitches, the beautiful people moved out, and the NY component dropped away. Undeterred, PJ steamed ahead with a Comedy Night at a venue in Malden, a Boston area hot spot for comics. He worked with the Pearl Street Station Restaurant to host a comedy night fund raiser for Gotham Whale, and they sold out the place! 

(Sold-out crowd at Pearl Street Station, Malden, MA)

 Thanks to everyone who came out! Follow Gotham Whale’s social media for more events like this! 

Support Gotham Whale!

Gotham Whale is very grateful for the ongoing support of the volunteers and donors, whose generosity enables the organization to continue its important work to help protect the whales and dolphins of New York City.
If you are already a member of Gotham Whale, we thank you for your support and hope you will continue to renew your membership annually. If you aren’t yet a member, please check out the different levels of membership we offer and consider joining. You can also support Gotham Whale by purchasing apparel through our Bonfire site. We have two different designs, available in a variety of colors, styles, and sizes—any of which would make a great gift for the whale lover in your life!



Follow Gotham Whale to stay informed about all the latest news and updates on the Whales of NYC!
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The next newsletter will be coming in April!
~Gotham Whale Team


Volume 4, Issue 1
Written and/or compiled by Beth Anne Miller for Gotham Whale


Copyright © 2023 Gotham Whale, All rights reserved.

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