One of my favorite places to be is out on the ocean, wind blowing through my hair, sun kissing my nose and the spray turning my skin salty. Since I knew it would probably be my last hurrah this year, I wanted to make it special, so decided to see the whales off New England’s Massachusetts Bay. Even though it had been an unusually active year for whales in the area, it is the end of the feeding season in this part of the world. I still thought my chance of a sighting was pretty good.
My friend and I set sail on the hour and a half trip into the Atlantic Ocean to Stellwagen Bank, a rich feeding ground for whales. The Bank is shallow, with depths of only about 100 to 120 feet. Because it’s so shallow, the sun creates a friendly ecosystem for plankton, on which whales love to feed. I figured if I was going to see a whale, this was the place.
Since I wasn’t sure we would see any whales, I decided to enjoy the trip, taking in the sites around me. Boston, rich in American history, is one of the most beautiful harbors on the eastern coast. It’s a large port city, so cruises come and go, and people sail in and out constantly in good weather.
As we got closer to Stellwagen Bank, our guide told us to watch out for the blow, the 15-foot tall water spout that shoots straight up out of the whales’ blowhole. Our eyes were peeled on the horizon for our first glimpse of the blow…or anything that might resemble whale activity. We were soon rewarded with the vanishing view of a whales’ tale in the distance. We had missed it!
I told myself right then that I wouldn’t miss the next surfacing of this fantastic creature! After about 10 minutes, time the whale spent feeding on the plankton below, we saw the blow and it surfaced again, this time a little closer.
This whale was a humpback whale. The humpback whales are the most social whale in this area, and sometimes put on a show of jumping out of the water, or breaching. We weren’t fortunate enough to see this whale breach, but we had a clear view of the fin and humped back, for which the humpback whale is named.
It wasn’t long before the whale was gone, back under water to continue feeding. It left me wanting more. I already have a plan to head back out on the ocean next year to catch another glimpse of these amazing creatures!