Real Whale Appears at Harborfest 2017 Whaleboat Races

Harborfest had a visit from a real live whale
Harborfest had a visit from a real live whale, Photo: Barbara Lassen, Rafael Ben-Ari/123RF

Those participating in the whaleboat races at Sag Harbor’s annual Harborfest got a big surprise last weekend when an actual whale appeared in the harbor.

According to members of a racing team who saw the animal during Sunday’s competition, a small whale surfaced within a few yards of the fake whale used as a decoy in the races. Emergency personnel were called, and the whaleboat races were called off until experts could determine whether the whale was still in the area.

While there was some alarm among participants in the races and agitation for suspending the competition altogether, it was eventually decided that the races could go forward.

“It’s very unlikely that the whale would do anything to hurt the racers,” explained George Grossman, a whale expert who works as a consultant for the Village of Sag Harbor. “He or she was probably just curious about the decoy and moved in to get a better look.”

The races continued without further incident.

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