It’s now just normal to see ridiculously large and majestic whales breaching the water in the Hamptons. The chance of seeing this happen is 100 percent if you go any beach on the South Fork.
Sharks are everywhere, too. There is a seemingly endless amount of baitfish swimming in the water, and thanks to drone photography and to Instagram, people are filming huge sharks attacking the schools in the water, less than a mile off of the shoreline; in fact, just a few hundred yards from the shoreline.
Five years ago, this happened MAYBE once a summer and MAYBE you were fortunate enough to see it. Ten years ago, this NEVER happened. Today, it happens every day.
My wife walks the beach every morning along Ocean Road; yesterday she found a shark tooth larger than the palm of her hand. My wife is small, but she’s not that small. Whatever this came from, it was a huge shark. What gives? What is it?
The hot button topic of the news cycle these days is climate change. We had climate change ten years ago however, we had it 5 years ago, and apparently it was the end of the world then as well. Is this year different? Climate change is a thin argument.
What I think is happening is twofold. The first is that the fish have figured out that they aren’t going to be overfished on Long Island, thanks to the phenomenal success of the environmental protection. Out at sea, hundreds of miles out, it’s the wild west. Overfishing from China has decimated fisheries, but as you get closer to the coastline it’s possible to regulate who fishes what and where they go. The fish have figured this out and are swimming for their lives to get closer to the coast of Long Island, and along with the little fish come the big fish. When a whale breaches the water, he’s not doing it for fun, he’s eating the baitfish that are in mountains of schools in the water.
The second thing that’s happening is that restaurants no longer have to rely on local catches to meet demand of diners. We’ve all adapted to eating farmed fish. Even the famous lobster roll, half the time has lobster that is not local, but from a farm or a protected fishery in Maine.
That’s what I think is happening. So don’t worry about sharing the ocean with sharks in the water, they have plenty of baitfish to eat.