(Popular Science) It is a perfect June day. After seemingly weeks of rainy gray skies, an early morning shower has given way to sunshine. White, puffy cumulus clouds hang in the sky, still, as if doodled onto the blue background. Despite the fact that the waters along this stretch of the Atlantic ordinarily tend more towards a grim gray (it’s supposed to be that color, one reassures themselves) today the water is practically Caribbean green, tiptoeing towards turquoise. I am on a boat, a white 95-foot double decker aluminum cruising vessel zooming across the New York bight—an indentation along the Atlantic Coast which makes New York City especially prone to storm surges like those that accompanied Hurricane Sandy. But we’re not hunting storms: we’re stalking whales.
For the first time in a century, humpback whales have returned to the waters of New York harbor. And not just occasionally, either. They're coming in enough numbers that a company can reliably trot tourists out to the ocean—within sight distance of Manhattan’s skyscrapers—to see them.