DARIEN, Conn. — It wasn't a wild goose chase Saturday morning for three fishing buddies from Norwalk who decided to keep an eye out for whales amid reports of recent sightings in Long Island Sound.
And the sharp-eyed trio — who were out at about 6:45 a.m. off the coast of Pear Tree Point in Darien — spotted the big one but didn't let it get away.
"Two buddies and I were out fishing and saw him break the surface and just followed him south toward the middle of the Sound," reported John Haffey of the Daily Voice staff. "He had to have been 35 feet or more. The video is him feeding on a school of menhaden (bunker)."
The video was shot by Robbie Perschino of Norwalk, who was fishing with Haffey and Tom Fergus, both of Norwalk.
The whale in the video appears to be a humpback — which is likely given its size.
Sightings of large whales are uncommon in Long Island Sound, which is relatively shallow.
Last year, a pair of young humpback whales became famous among boaters in Long Island Sound.
At the time, Dave Sigworth at the Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk said the staff there could not remember any previous sightings of a humpback whale in the Sound.
Dan Lent, an Easton man who spotted the whales last year, said they were about the same length as his 27-foot boat.
If you do spot a whale, remember that they are federally protected, Sigworth said, by the Federal Marine Mammal Protection Act. Boaters are advised to follow the NOAA Whale Watching Guidelines to minimize chances of harassing or injuring whales and violating federal law. The guidelines apply to all large whales from Maine through Virginia, except North Atlantic right whales.
Most important, keep your distance from the whale and follow from a distance of at least 300 yards.
Last summer's whale story had an unhappy ending. In October, the humpback's dead body washed up in Lloyd Harbor, N.Y., which is located directly across the Sound from Darien.
Signs of blunt trauma were found on the right side of the 28-foot female humpback whale. The injuries suggested a boat strike, Sigworth said.
If you do spot a whale, send an email with photos and details of the encounter to Joe Schnierlein at the Maritime Aquarium at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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