When Manhattan Was Mannahatta: A Stroll Through the Centuries
Q: Aside from Hudson’s ship, what do we see?
A: Whales and porpoises. One of the earliest sketches we have of Manhattan shows a whale in the Hudson River. The charter of Trinity Church includes a provision specifically saying dead whales found on beaches in the province of New York are property of the church, which could use them to make oil and whale bone. So whales were clearly a meaningful part of the local economy and ecosystem.
— When Manhattan Was Mannahatta: A Stroll Through the Centuries, Michael Kimmelman in The New York Times