Shark alert in New York: predatory fish in front of the Statue of Liberty

Flap, flap, flap. This is what it sounds like when thousands of menhaden fish swim on the surface of the Atlantic. The shoal is as big as a soccer field and thanks to the loudly splashing water creates the illusion of flying fish. From the deck of the excursion boat, the water is almost imperceptible, the brown-grey menhaden crowding so closely around the motorized intruder off the coast of New York. The real danger for the herring species, however, lurks under the water surface. It’s the whales and sharks that the sixty guests on board are waiting for. “This is an all-you-can-eat buffet for them,” says Mitchell Steinhardt, photographer for the conservation organization Gotham Whale.

Where are the marine mammals?

It took the American Princess an hour and a half to travel from Sheepshead Bay in Brooklyn almost to the shore of Fire Island. The water is calm and dark blue, there is not a cloud in the sky, several container ships are within reach in the roadstead. Hapag Lloyd, Maersk Line, China Shipping stands on their hulls. The beach is now four or four miles away, and Rockaway, Long Beach, and Fire Island run like a long white ribbon along the coast. A few skyscrapers can be seen, the huge public housing complexes of Far Rockaway, and the Manhattan skyline in the haze in the north-west. “We know where the whales and sharks are,” Steinhardt assures a couple of bored-looking children who have nothing else to do in the heat but run around in circles on the boat. Now the engine is switched off and everyone is waiting for the marine mammals and predatory fish.

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