How many times have I thought about going whale watching and just haven’t done it? Well, we can finally cross it off our bucket list. We selected our date at the last minute, hoping for a warm clear day and calm waters. We were lucky. The day was gorgeous. In the mid-’80s onshore, perfect. The girls were so excited about the trip.
Honestly, even though it was a beautiful day I’m so glad I read the info on the website about it being colder on the water. Of course, I knew this but several miles out to sea it really is colder. We brought winter jackets which we were thankful for. It was surprising how much the temperature dropped past the harbor wall. And reversely it felt like a wall of heat on the way back into the harbor. So amazing. I guess that’s why being out on the water is so appealing on a hot summer day.
It took us about 35 minutes to get out to the feeding grounds which we spent 2 hours at in total. We visited 3 different locations to see the different whales and porpoises we saw. Since it’s all done at high speeds the wind was strong but as you can see it didn’t stop the girls from being in the front of the boat. Checking it all out. Ready to see the whales.
The captain and crew were fantastic. There were several crew members walking around checking on the guests, making sure everyone was doing well. Offering to get you anything you might need. Suggesting different places to get the best view of the whales from and even where to sit to get out of the spray of the water. They really were there to help the guests. One lady even suggested to a guest to drink and eat something to make her feel better. They really were attentive to all the guests.
When we got to the feeding grounds the educator on board explained everything that was happening. If we were waiting for whales to surface, he would explain their feeding habits or why the ocean in the North Atlantic is green or why the Caribbean is blue. Do you know why? I do. It was wonderful. I learned so much, I was amazed. We saw Humpback Whales, Fin Whales, and porpoises. The educator even knew the names of a few of the whales we saw.
I found it amazing that whales come back to the same feeding grounds every year. The whales migrate from their feeding grounds in the North Atlantic to the Caribbean to give birth to their calves in the winter. The calves have no blubber on them when born and would get hyperthermia and die if they were to be born in the North Atlantic. The Caribbean is much warmer which allows the calves to acclimate to life before the journey north. During this time in the Caribbean, the whales are fasting or using the blubber they’ve stored up during the summer months of feeding up in the North Atlantic. I was surprised to learn the Caribbean is mostly void of food for the whales. The water is blue because there isn’t any plankton.
In the North Atlantic, there is a lot of plankton in the water which makes the water green. That plankton is feeding the fish which in turn feeds the whales. The Humpback and Fin whales are baleen whales. The baleen acts as a filter system allowing the water to be expelled while trapping the fish and krill that the whales eat. The whales are in the North Atlantic from April through October and are feeding up to 18 hours a day. They are just as likely to feed at night as during the day. They feed and rest the whole day long.
The whales are able to stay submerged for quite a while so when we saw the same whale go down and then come up again within a few minutes it was wonderful. Honestly, I think the whales get a kick out of seeing the boats. They would come so close as if to say “hello”.
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Scientists studying whales have learned the whale’s tail markings are as unique to whales as our fingerprints are to us. No two are alike. This is why the educator on board was able to point out the two Fin Whales we saw and tell us their names. He told us that Fan and Spoon have been in the waters off Cape Ann Massachusetts since the 1970s.
Porpoises we learned, are actually small toothed whales. Who knew? It was interesting to learn that porpoises have two blowholes. These blowholes allow the porpoise to use echolocation as their many sensory systems. I loved how the porpoises came close to the boat but never bumped into us. They kept bobbing their heads out of the water at the edge but sadly didn’t jump out of the water for us. You can see another whale watching tour boat in the distance.
Some whales use echolocation as well, while others do not. The baleen whales we saw do not have very good use of echolocation but toothed whales like the Beluga Whale, Sperm Whale and Orka’s do. I asked the educator about this. He told me the whales are still able to hear the boats coming since sound travels faster in water than in air. They knew we were there and they came up to greet us. It was a treat for sure.
This was an afternoon adventure for us. We had lunch at home but as being on the water often does, the sea air made us all hungry. Therefore, I was grateful the ship had a snack bar on board. Everyone enjoyed potato chips, Doritos and Ainsley even had a hot dog she was so hungry. I was just glad they offered real food as well as the snacks.
We had a great time on this whale watching adventure. I would love to take another whale watching trip in another location, possibly on the west coast or even near Alaska to see if there would be different species of whales that we would see.
Have you been on a whale watching adventure? Where did you take your trip from? What whales did you see?