A Connecticut fishing captain is sharing his once-in-a-lifetime sighting—he saw several whales on the Long Island Sound.
When Captain Joe Diorio set out from Old Lyme Wednesday on a fishing charter, a whale was the last thing he expected to see… until it happened.
“Basically I just see this huge whale come right out of the water. I was like this is crazy,” said Diorio in an interview with NBC Connecticut.
Diorio was on a charter with a client when he spotted what he thinks was two, possibly three whales feeding in the Sound. He’s been fishing the Sound for decades and said he’s spotted whales in other areas, but never here.
“I’ve seen them outside in Block Island, in Montauk area, never inside the Long Island Sound," Diorio said.
He’s one of the latest people to spot the massive sea mammals in areas of the sound and other parts of New England where they previously weren’t seen.
Ellie Smith shared several photos with NBC Connecticut of whales she spotted off of Point o’ Woods on Wednesday.
Marine wildlife experts said there are several reasons why these kinds of sightings may be increasing. Dr. Peter Auster is a marine ecologist at UConn and Mystic Aquarium and said the uptick is due in part to the proliferation of fish that the whales eat over the last few years. The reduced activity due to fewer ships on the water could also be a contributing factor.
The soundscape is quieter on Long Island Sound so the effects of noise that might be keeping some animals away are reduced, much like we’re seeing more wildlife on land. We’re just disturbing the environment less, due to our behavior during the pandemic,” said Dr. Auster.
Diorio is excited about the sighting and hopes it's something that happens more frequently going forward.
“The Hartford Whalers, back in the day, they got that name for a reason because there used to be whales that would come inside the long island sound. So if anything, the sea is getting healthier. The water is getting cleaner,” said Diorio.