Less than 20 minutes after departing from Riis Landing, passengers on the American Princess's Sunday whale watching cruise spotted their first humpback whale.​ 

Cruise captain Tom Paladino says these glances of marine life are becoming increasingly common just off the shores of the Rockaways.

In fact, he says you’re more than likely than ever to see a whale during the ship's four-hour journey.

"There's more and more each time. We've been in the boating business, my father before me, since 1945. And we'd see a couple of whales a year. Now, we see whales almost every day," said Captain Paladino.

Joining Paladino on the cruise was Paul Sieswerda, the founder and director of Gotham Whale, a non-profit dedicated to the study and protection of New York City's marine life. 

"We provide the educational portion on board, we give little lectures on board and tell people about the whales and the work that we're doing," explained Sieswerda.

Both experts believe more whales have started to settle in this area thanks to the city's successful initiatives and efforts to clean up its bodies of water.

"The whole ecosystem is getting better in New York, and it's an incredible time," said Paladino.

"It's a perfect case of the food pyramid, the baseline, the waters are cleaner, which brings the algae, which brings the zooplankton, which brings the smaller fish and the bigger fish feed on them all the way up to the whales," added Sieswerda.

Due to the impressive number of recent sightings of whales, and both dolphins and seals, the cruise line has added extra whale watching dates into early November.

For more information, go to www.americanprincesscruises.com.