On the 36th Day of the PapiBlogger Family Road Trip we took to the ocean waters off Gloucester, Massachusetts for some of the most fun whale watching adventures we could have ever dreamed of.
WHALES OF FUN AT GLOUCESTER
We’ve always associated whale watching with the northern parts of the West Coast and Alaska so when we heard that the northern waters off New England were teeming with whales, we couldn’t resist the chance to try to see them.
If you’re ever in the Boston area, the best place to board a whale watching tour is in Gloucester, the nation’s oldest seaport and the home of what is arguably New England’s best whale watching company, Cape Ann Whale Watch.
Truth be told we weren’t sure what to expect because Cape Ann Whale Watch actually guarantees you will see whales, a big claim when you consider that they’re depending on wild animals to show up in their natural environment. About an hour into what had been a sleepy ocean ride aboard the Hurricane II, not far from the coastline, our doubts disappeared.
“Whale at 11 o’clock!”
Everyone went bonkers when the boat crew uttered the word “whale.” To our initial disbelief, just 200 or so yards from our vessel we saw a Humpback Whale emerge and then quickly submerge.
Our ship’s captain maneuvered the vessel slowly to better anticipate when the whale would reemerge and from that point forward the one that got closer to the other was the whale to us. At one point the whale resurfaced within 10 or so feet of our boat.
Moments after our initial whale sighting, our Humpback friend was joined by another Humpback mother and baby whale. For two hours our vessel was surrounded by at least three visible whales and all of the passengers, including us, were absolutely giddy with excitement.
We spent so much time with the whales that eventually we learned to anticipate when they will ascend. One tall tale sign that a whale is about to emerge with its mouth wide open with fish is that a large circle of bubbling turquoise-shaded water shows up on the ocean surface with seagulls hovering just above the area. When the whales pop out of the water with their mouths full of fish, the seagulls swoop in, trying to snatch whatever fish they can.
Here are some additional things we learned from our whale watching adventure:
- There are two types of whales: Toothed Whales (like the Orca) and Baleen Whales (like the Humpback). Toothed Whales have one nostril and teeth in the top and bottom while Baleen whales have two blowholes and baleen plates for filtering food from water.
- Many of the whales that traverse the northern Atlantic spend winter time roaming the coast of the Dominican Republic, where it is also popular to see whales.
- Despite their incredible average size of 39–52 ft and weight of 79,000 lb, Humpback Whales regularly breach the water with just a couple strokes of their tails. The second largest animals in the world after the Blue Whales, Humpback Whales have a reputation for being acrobats.
GLOUCESTER ON LIST FOR REPEAT VISIT
The biggest regret we had was that our day sped by so fast because Gloucester, about 30 miles north of Boston, is an incredibly picturesque seaside town. If you’ve ever seen those commercials of northeastern port towns with stately New England homes facing gorgeous craggy rock-lined beaches, that’s Gloucester. We promised the kids that God willing we’ll be back here together again and next time we’ll even let them dip in the frigid beaches they so longed to bathe in.
SPRINT NEXTEL ROAD TRIP TIP OF THE DAY
Beware of nighttime requests for help or charity from strangers. My wife and I have a policy to avoid being charitable to anybody at night and especially at gas station stops. The reason for this is obvious: most of the people who ask for money or help at night are often up to no good. It’s not worth the risk.