A Whale of A Time

One of the best things that you can do in Massachusetts is whale watching and there are a number of reasons for this.

It’s safer than being in the car; the residents of Massachusetts may be awful drivers but that makes every other form of transport safer by comparison. In addition to this you get a lovely sea breeze on a hot summer’s day and most important of all, seeing whales from close range is amazing.

On Saturday we went on a whale watch from Plymouth, MA (of Pilgrim fame) on the hottest day of the year so far. If you ever go to Plymouth skip the sad and dejected looking Plymouth Rock that sits under bars like a prisoner to stop people with nothing better to do from chipping off a souvenir and go and see some whales. We boarded the medium sized ship at midday with a mixed bunch of locals and residents. A friendly family from Sweden were sat in front of us and the American man sat next to us proudly informed them that he’d “been to Legoland” when he found out their nationality. The Swede’s nodded, too polite to tell him that Lego is actually from Denmark and my wife and I were laughing too much to correct him.

Almost immediately after leaving the harbour, the resident naturalist told us that there were some right whales visible from the bow. Unfortunately the fact that they were dead ahead meant that she and the crew were the only people able to see them. When you are on a whale watching boat “whales at 12 o’clock” is not something you want to hear unless you are steering the damn thing. They are sadly called right whales because they were known as the “right” whale to hunt but they are the wrong whale to see as they are protected and the boat couldn’t get closer than 500 feet to them! Just knowing that we were in close proximity to these rare and elusive mammals was pretty awesome though. Maybe next time we will be lucky enough to see one!

Two's company...
Two’s company. Seagulls often betray the location of feeding whales.
I'm a little proud of this picture of a whale surfacing, its the first time I've got a head shot.
I’m a little proud of this picture of a whale surfacing, its the first time I’ve got a head shot. 

After about an hour we arrived at the famous Stellwagen Bank off Cape Cod, one of the best whale watching locations in the world. Almost immediately we were surrounded by humpback whales in every direction. There seemed to be whales everywhere, to the left, the right and ahead of the boat. What’s more they decided to perform for us; slapping the water repeatedly with their tails, diving, swimming alongside the boat and breaching (jumping out of the water). Slapping the water with their tails and fins is one of their feeding behaviours and it was great to watch. We even saw the whales going to the toilet; the evidence a brown film that floated on the surface and made the children on the boat laugh (and maybe me too). These amazing animals range from 12-16m (39-52 feet) so even someone as short sighted as me would have trouble missing one without glasses.

This whale was feeling a little bit shy!
This whale was feeling a little bit shy!

Random whale fact of the day; you can identify an individual humpback whale by its tail, kind of like a name badge if you will. If you ever get a chance to go on a whale watch then I recommend that you do it. As well as sunburn, you will gain a new respect for these amazing mammals. I hope you like the photos. We used Captain John Whale Watch http://www.captjohn.com/

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13 thoughts on “A Whale of A Time

  1. Cool head shot! I have always wanted to do a whale-watching excursion. We are debating a trip to the Boston area in the fall. If we make it this will be a “must do”! Thanks for sharing the experience with us!

    1. It’s really cool and one of those things that makes you humbled to see. I bet you’ve seen a lot of seals, dolphins off the Cornish coast though and maybe a basking shark? They are massive too!

      1. Yes Tom I have seen all those creatures off our coast. Basking sharks are certainly big, but actually quite boring to watch as all they do is cruise along filtering plankton, no splashing or leaping around I’m afraid, they leave that to the dolphins and porpoises which can be spectacular. For seals the best place I have ever been is the Orkney Islands.

  2. Pingback: 2015 In Review With Photos | Old England to New England

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