A whale of a display

Sunday 11th October, I travelled to Barnstable, Cape Cod, to take a trip with Hyannis Whale Watcher Cruises.

What a day it was.  For $49, really a great deal, I arrived at 10am and we set sail for the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, off the tip of Cape Cod, running up toward Maine

The Whale Watcher boat was something else.  A large boat, especially designed for whale watching and for us, only half full on our trip.  With 4 jets at the rear, the boat was up to 28 knots in a flash, a real experience going that fast on something so big.  Comfortable enough for the hour it took to get to the bank.

Once on the bank, the search began for the 3 ‘B’s.  Blow, Backs and Bubbles.  The first whale blow’s could be seen a couple of miles out and the captain had us alongside a Humpback Cow and her Calf in moments.

They’re incredibly elegant animals, so large and graceful, but fast and as we would learn, highly efficient at feeding.

The calf doesn’t feed, rather watches the mum and learns how to feed for when it will leave her side.  Like a toddler though, the calf becomes impatient quickly and is entertaining to watch it misbehave!

Quickly though, as we followed the progress of this Cow and Calf, we caught up with a pair of adult male humpbacks, cooperatively feeding.  They take their breathe at the surface and then dive deep below, and as they identify a shoal of fish above them, they’ll blow bubbles in concentric circles.  As the bubbles rise up through the shoal, the fish will become disorientated, providing the whales opportunity to swim up through the shoal with their mouths open.

I guess we spent 2 hours with these whales, with excellent commentary from our Naturalist.  Informative without being intrusive, we could admire the animals whilst being educated in to their behavior and history.

We were back at the marina for 3pm..ish.  A great timetable which allowed some time to enjoy sailing past Cape Cod’s landscape, plenty of time with the animals without getting fatigued by the cold winds and no shade, back in plenty of time to have a break before the journey home.

A pair of Humpback Whales cooperatively feeding, the concentric circles of bubbles clearly visible
I managed to get this picture in the can, but to be honest, I put the camera down quickly to just enjoy looking at these animals in their natural habitat.

Animals on show, in even the best and most responsible safari/zoo based institutes, can never hope to match experiences like this.  For sure there was every chance we could have seen no whales at all, but that’s the privilege we should enjoy for when we do get to see them.

I will absolutely bring my family back to Hyannis to this whale watch when we next come to New England.  Whilst the season ends next week for Hyannis and the whales migrate to the Caribbean for the winter, make time in the Spring to come to the mid cape based Hyannis Whale Watcher Cruises.

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