Whale Watch

Whale Tail

Massachusetts is one of the premier whale watching areas in the world.  It isn’t a breeding ground and the big whales rarely breach here so what makes this area so special?  There are banks and shoals that the whales use as a summer feeding area that are very close to a major population center, Boston.  On any given high season day more than 5000 people will get a view of the larger whales.

Perhaps the best place to leave for a whale watch is Provincetown.  The main watch areas are less than an hour from the dock.  P-town was the original landing spot of the Mayflower, a piece of history celebrated in the large Pilgrims Monument.

P-town

I took a whale watch tour out of P-town with my parents this August.  On the way out we passed three light houses, including this one, the Long Point Light.

Long Point Light

It was only a short time out before we saw our first spout, as in, “Thar she blows.”  The first whales we saw were Finback whales. more properly called “Fin Whales”.  These are the second largest animals to every grace the Earth, only being beaten out by the giant Blue Whale.  We only stayed with the two Fin Whales for a few minutes before heading farther out.

Fin Whale

It wasn’t long before we came across three Humpback Whales feeding together.  We stayed with these whales for quite a while.  There are parts of all three whales in the picture below.

3 Whales

Usually we saw only one section of a whale at a time.  I also took quite a few pictures where the whale went out of the frame on both sides because I was zoomed in too close.  I like the view in this picture where a longer portion is visible.

Humpback Whale Back

The whales occasionally come up on their side and stick a fin out of the water.

Side of Whale

This picture was taken seconds after the above picture and I think we see the tail here, though the whale is still on its side.

Side Whale Tail

When they dive they often lift their tails out of the water.

Whale Tail

I like this sequence of the tail coming violently out, going past vertical and then going down. (This is the same tail as the side view tail.)

Whale Tail 1

Whale Tail 2

Whale Tail 3

Wale Tail 4

Only a few times was I able to get a picture of the head with the knobs, though I saw the heads come up a few times.

Whale Head

Blow

We saw three more humpback whales on the way back in, two more together and then later one on its own.

Whale

We also saw several Minke Wales on the way back.  I saw one go by just off the side of the boat.  A few minutes later the captain announced that they could be seen not far from where I saw the first one.  Looking I saw a couple of them breaching, there whole 7 m/23 ft body leaving the water.  I tried taking pictures but missed every time.  I think I saw 4 jumps.  This isn’t a Minke, it’s two humpbacks, but it shows a little splash.

Splash

Besides the whales I saw several types of birds, such as the Great Shearwater, which are rarely seen from land.  There are also many boats, both recreational and working boats.  These days, though, the commercial fishing craft are becoming almost as rare as the whales.

Fishing Boat

After three or four hours on the water we made back to the port.  Over all it was a great trip with 2 Fin Whales, at least 6 Humpback and several Minke Whales sighted.

23 thoughts on “Whale Watch

  1. Corina

    Whales are magical animals. At least that’s the way I feel about them. Quite a collection of photos. I’ve only caught a few good photos of them over the years. And of course, I can’t find them now.

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    1. trentpmcd Post author

      In ways they do feel magical. Often the boats can get real close to them, or the other way around – the boats start drifting and whales come close to the boats. I felt very lucky to get these shots.

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    1. trentpmcd Post author

      I have been on a whale watch before, but this one was great. They are such magnificent creatures! I could watch them all day. I’d really love to be able to see their huge but graceful forms from under the water.

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    1. trentpmcd Post author

      Thanks M-R! I felt very lucky. They said there had been a handful of tours without a sighting in the last few weeks. And yes, even though over 90% of our “whale time” was with the humpbacks, seeing all three species was special.

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  4. alienorajt

    How delightful, Trent – exciting too. I’d love to see a whale; they are such amazing animals, I think, and your shots capture their magnificence brilliantly.

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    1. trentpmcd Post author

      Thanks Ali! It is great to see them. Even though I live close to several whale watching tours, this is only the second time I’ve done one. This one was much, much better than the first, which was great since I brought my parents. I’m sure there are tours in Britain so you wouldn’t have to cross the pond just to see a whale.

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    1. trentpmcd Post author

      Thanks Karen! There’s a lot to do “here” (I’m in NH right now, but will be in MA in 24 hours). Oh yes, your likes have been showing lately. I’m not sure what the problem was before.

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