Whale spotted near Statue of Liberty

The Staten Island Ferry was a whale-watching cruise for some commuters Thursday.

The Staten Island Ferry briefly became a free whale-watching cruise for some commuters Thursday morning.

A whale breached the surface of New York Harbor, creating a picture-perfect scene for ferry riders who saw the mammal emerge right in front of the Statue of Liberty.

Lisa Ohta, 33, was aboard the 8:45 a.m. ferry from Manhattan to Staten Island when the boat’s crew made an unusual announcement.

“The ferry slowed down right as we were passing the Statue of Liberty,” Ohta said in a telephone interview. “They made an announcement saying that if we looked toward the Statue of Liberty, and specifically the green buoy, a whale will surface momentarily.”

So Ohta headed to the statue-facing side of the boat, a popular spot with tourists seeking the perfect view, and saw the whale emerge.

“It was pretty magical,” she said.

The Coast Guard later advised boaters that a “large whale” had been seen near Liberty Island. 

The whale didn’t seem to be staying put around the statue — Instagram user Dan Gallagher later uploaded footage of a whale that he said he spotted in the Hudson River, just above the Holland Tunnel. Whale expert Paul Sieswerda told DNAinfo, which first shared Gallagher’s video, said that the whale appeared to be a humpback.

In June, another humpback breached the Narrows beneath the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. 

Even when whales aren’t around, the ferry offers stunnings views of New York Harbor.

Jillian Jorgensen