Scene Around: Whale of a Sea Bright Sighting

What a catch — or a couple of catches, that is!

The catches? The one on camera of the humpback whale sighted off the shore in Sea Bright this week and the whale’s own catch-of-the day lunch — a school of bunker.

It’s no fish tale. What used to be a pretty rare sighting of humpback whales feeding and recreating at the Jersey Shore is now much more common occurrence; and retired Red Bank photographer Marc Grauer got a close-up glimpse in the early afternoon on Sunday at about 200 to 300 yards off the shore of Ship Ahoy Beach Club — right in front of it.

Grauer tells R-FH Retro that he captured the whale seemingly ready for its close-up and savoring the meal and the moment with his “beach camera,” a Panasonic Lumix FZ300, the same camera R-FH Retro uses.

What’s to blame, or rather be the unbeknownst blessing, for such a sighting? Well, humpbacks, a 40-ton mammal have been known to frequent the Jersey waters, feeding for longer periods of time there, about a month at a time, much more in the past decade. And they tend to return for a couple to a few years.

Such sightings have become a much more common occurrence due to many factors, such as climate change and the abundance of menhaden, the bunker they feed on, in the local ocean and river waters lately.

Yes, those are the fish that have been washing up on the shores of rivers en masse in recent years. Why so close to the shore? There are several reasons, says, such as better oxygenated water, steering clear of pollution, and the mammals just like to play closer to the shore, like humans.

Another for the close-up appearances is that the females usually tend to head to more shallow waters after they give birth, not only to feed, but, among other things, to keep babies away from predators and show them

If you see them jumping out of the water and slapping their tails on the surface, know that they’re communicating, perhaps waving. It’s called breaching. Give a wave back and watch the natural wonder of it all.

In the meantime, do some watching here by getting a glimpse into that whale feeding and play moment on Sunday in Sea Bright. Look closely. You can actually see the bunker in the whale’s mouth.

Don’t forget to click on one photo to enlarge for the full spectacular view and scroll.

Thanks, again, to Marc Grauer, for this great glimpse into nature at the Sea Bright beachfront!

Whale feeding off the shore of Ancorage Beach Club in Sea Bright
Photo/Marc Grauer

— Gallery Photos/Marc Grauer