Three whales “breached” the water off of Jones Beach State Park Monday morning in a rare sighting close to shore, officials said.
The whales, believed to be pilot whales, were spotted shortly before noon in front of the park’s Central Mall, about 700 to 1,000 yards off shore, said George Gorman, state parks deputy regional director for Long Island. There may have been others swimming farther off in the distance, he said.
Gorman called the sighting a “rare” one for the state park.
“They were heading west toward New York City. We believe they were tourists,” he joked.
The whales swam along the surface, spraying mist into the air in front of hundreds of mesmerized people standing on the shoreline while at least two others jumped and twisted out of the water.
Coast Guard Petty Officer Steve Strohmaier said a boater had reported a whale swimming in the waters off Moriches earlier Monday but the Coast Guard did not have any sightings of whales off Jones Beach. Other vessels have reported seeing whales off Fire Island, he said.
“There’s been a little bit more sightings in recent days,” he said.