Whales have returned to the waters around the Big Apple in numbers not seen for at least a century, a comeback experts believe is the result of anti-hunting laws and cleaner waters. Dolphins and seals have also made triumphant returns, and one ferryboat captain estimates the numbers of marine mammals have risen tenfold in recent years. One pod of at least 30 fin whales lives in the waters just beyond the Verrazano Bridge.
Cornell University professor Chris Clark has helped install acoustic monitors to gauge whale numbers, which are "far, far more than expected," Clark tells the New York Daily News. "I've been surprised elsewhere in the world, but off New York—yikes!" The monitors have discovered six species of whale inhabiting New York's waters, he says—"a real menagerie of giants." (Read more whales stories.)