It’s not something you expect in the waters off the coast of New York. 

Nearly 100 people boarded the American Princess boat at Riis Landing in the Rockaways in search of whales and dolphins. This tour is run by Gotham Whale, a whale research and advocacy organization. 

"The Rockaways are the new Cape Cod. We have both humpback whales and dolphins off the coast of Rockaways and really what they are doing here during the summer months are coming to feed," said Assistant Director of Gothamn Whale Catherine Granton. 

Researchers are calling it an environmental success story, the result of federal clean water and endangered species laws paying off. The cleaner water has allowed algae and zooplankton to thrive, creating a food source for a fish called menhaden, which humpbacks love to eat. The result is humpback whales have returned in numbers that haven't been seen in these waters for a hundred years. Dolphins, too.

"We began collecting data in 2011 and each year the number of sightings and the number of whales have grown," said Granton. 

While Gotham boasts a 90 percent sighting rate for whales and dolphins it took four hours crisscrossing the choppy Atlantic between Rockaway and Sandy Hook, New Jersey to spot the dolphins. We saw about 30 of them.  

"Some days we come out and we will have a sighting right away or within the first hour or so and some days it takes up till the ninth-inning," said American Princess Captain Frank DeSantis.