Whale Watching

A friend asked me what whale watching was like. The question caught me off guard. I was on my way to Plymouth to do exactly that, take a Whale Watch trip with Capt’n John.

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As we pulled out of Plymouth Harbor I looked around at all the people on the boat and thought about the question. It’s a lot like fishing. You go out with your bait , toss in your line and …wait and  wait…and wait and if you’re lucky you get a bite and if you’re really lucky you get a fish.

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Well when you go whale watching you get on a boat and ride, and ride and ride some more. Finally someone spots a spout or blow and the boat slows down. Now you wait in one spot while everyone looks around the boat to see if the whale is going to surface any place close. If your lucky you’ll see another blow and maybe a back.

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The jackpot or whale watching’s equivalent of landing the fish is having the huge mammal cruise along side the boat giving you a real good look. To borrow a phrase from Animal Planet’s show Call of the Wildman; “That’s live action , Baby!”

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Just off the tip of Cape Cod we got we got our first blow with the Pilgrim Tower of Provincetown in the background. Several Minke Whales were passing through. Minke whales are one of the smallest of the baleen whales, growing to only 24-26 ft. Baleen whales are filter feeders. They strain water though the baleen hairs and Krill and other small marine creatures are captured there. Hard to believe feeding this way can result in such a large animal.


They were small and kept their distance (kind of like a nibble in fishing). It was enough to get everyone excited but not close enough for pictures. So we motored on.

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It didn’t take too much longer before we got another blow. This time it was a Fin Back Whale and there was more than one. The naturalist kept telling us that the fin backs were the greyhounds of whales around here (Massachusetts) but they didn’t seem to be in a big rush. They cruised along near the surface doing shallow dives and short blows.

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At one point one of them cruised right next to the boat . You could actually see it as it began to come to the surface which made timing the picture for when it surfaced pretty easy.

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The naturalist was using the size of our boat to estimate the length of the whales. She said they were all around 80 ft. long.

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I don’t know how many different whales we saw. I lost track.

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I checked Capt. John’s web sites but they didn’t post our trip. 🙁  No humpbacks today. They are my favorite. When they dive you get the classic tail flukes but when Fin Backs dive there’s no tail. It makes me think of a submarine.

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There might be a little hump and fin and then it’s gone. In a shallow dive they just seem to sink away.

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There was enough action so that everyone came away happy even without the appearance of any humpbacks.

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I may just have to try to squeeze in another trip just to try for the humpbacks.

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