The fish were biting and so were the whales.
Capt. James Schneider, owner of James Joseph Fishing, was operating a boat with 44 passengers on a fishing trip when his crew spotted a trio of whales feeding in the Long Island Sound near Huntington about 12:30 p.m. Saturday.
The whales slapped their tails on the water and were "bubble net feeding," where they disorient and herd fish schools upward by blowing bubbles before eating them.
Schneider, 50, said the whales appeared to be endangered humpbacks. He fished for decades off the coast of Massachusetts, where humpback whales were a familiar sight.
"After a while you get used to identifying them," he said. "They were definitely humpbacks."
Humpback whales can grow up to 60 feet long, with distinctively long flippers.
However common a sight they were in Massachusetts, their presence in Long Island Sound was something to marvel at, Schneider said. He hasn't seen any in the Sound since he started his commercial fishing business in 1988.
The Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation hasn't received any calls from the public about the whales, spokeswoman Rachel Bosworth said. But officials are asking those with photos and videos to email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
"Whales are common in New York waters, however we do not get many reports from the public of whales in Long Island Sound," Bosworth wrote in an email. "We think this particular whale is being spotted because of the food source out here."
Schneider and his crew suspended their fishing trip Saturday and followed the whales east, staying about 100 yards back, for a half-hour, he said.
"One of the customers yelled up to me, 'Are we done with the whale watching?' I said over the PA, 'We haven't seen this in 30 years,' " Schneider said.
Schneider said the Sound has seen large numbers of fish this summer and a large number of other animals, such as dolphins and sea turtles.