Winding up a fishing trip, Chris Jagenburg was pulling up the boat's anchor on Long Island Sound when he told his friends he may have caught a glimpse of a whale spouting water.
"Yeah, right," was the response.
But a few minutes later, as they headed back to port Tuesday afternoon, the whale came into view, said Jagenburg, 33, of Port Washington.
Jagenburg, joined by his buddy and his friend's father, watched in awe as the whale -- possibly a humpback -- shot majestically into the air in Long Island Sound.
The breach happened less than 20 yards from his friend's 22-foot Grady-White Seafarer powerboat -- off Glen Cove, just east of the mouth of Hempstead Harbor.
With his trusty iPhone, Jagenburg snapped photos of the whale in the air and hitting the water.
"To see something like that is definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience, for sure," he said Thursday.
The whale sighting is one of an inordinate number this season for Long Island, according to marine experts.
Joe Schnierlein, a marine expert at the Maritime Aquarium in South Norwalk, Connecticut, told Newsday in September, after a humpback whale sighting, that such appearances in western Long Island Sound are rare, with only a handful of any type being spotted since 1970.
In May, three beluga whales visiting Manhasset Bay were caught on video. Schnierlein said another whale -- a minke -- was spotted in Long Island Sound near the Connecticut coast less than a week later.
"We really could call it the year of the whales," Schnierlein said after the September sighting.
Tuesday's encounter was the second this year for Jagenburg, who works in a quality assurance role for his family's fourth-generation business, making fruit bases for yogurt and other products.
In summer, he also spotted a beluga in Manhasset Bay.
The frequent sightings of whales and dolphins, lured to the Sound by large numbers of tasty bait fish, is "something spectacular," he said.
CORRECTION: The whale was spotted in the Long Island Sound. The body of water was incorrect in an earlier version of the story.