BELMAR, NJ — As humpback whales begin heading south for the winter, their journey is giving whale watchers boundless opportunities to see these massive mammals — sometimes just a short distance off the Belmar shoreline.

In a recent excursion on the Sea Eagle, marine conservationist Gina Greer of Lake Como snapped these striking images, capturing the beauty of the whale in its environs with the distinctive Belmar coastline visible in the background.

“Right now, we are seeing a lot of activity, and it is a great time to be out on the water,” she said. “I encourage everyone to take advantage of this time of year and watch these magnificent animals.”

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Greer, who recently earned her master’s degree in marine conservation and policy from Stony Brook University in New York, spent this summer as the naturalist for Belmar Whale Watch and Eco Tour, aboard the Sea Eagle.

“I love connecting with the guests, sharing the experience of watching local sea life and sharing my knowledge about the animals that we were seeing,” she said. “Besides whales, we have seen lots of dolphins, spinner sharks, osprey, gannets, turtles, crabs and even a mola (sunfish).”

Greer is also a volunteer with New York City-based Gotham Whale, collecting data of whales seen along the Jersey Shore while on her whale-watching trips. “I like to have the guests help me as we head back to the marina search our catalog to see if this is a new whale for us or if we have seen it before,” she said. “A few weeks ago, we saw a whale that hadn't been seen around here since 2016, which was pretty exciting.”