Stellwagen Bank Gloucester Reviews
whale watching at Stellwagen Bank, MA Sep 20, 2008
Stellwagen Bank is a plateau just north of Boston, USA, where humpback whales (and other species) feed in the summer months.
I stayed in the little town of Rockport, MA www.rockportusa.com just a short drive from Gloucester www.gloucesterma.com (our whale watching host). Rockport is a delightful town with many restaurants and art galleries. When I went in 1999 it was a dry town, whether it still is I don’t know.
I travelled with Discover The World on a week long guided trip to watch this amazing spectacle. We were out on the water most mornings by 7am, so that we could do our whale watching away from the tourist boats that start out later. On every trip out one is pretty much guaranteed that whales will be seen. And see them we did. In small groups and large groups. I had come to photograph many behaviours and after a couple of days missing opportunities due to lack of experience, I soon learned when and how a whale may ‘tail fluke’ or ‘breach’.
One morning we arrived at the banks to find 3 humpbacks (2 adult females – possibly mother and aunt – and one juvenile male). The females were ‘logging’ which is a term for resting on the surface looking like logs, and the juvenile obviously bored came over to check out our boat. He swam around on his side, looking at the funny people all oohing and ahhing. And then he became that naughty little show-off kid. Using his pectoral fin (the long white arm-like appendage) he started splashing us. And the further the splash went, and the more we all squealed, he did it again with great gusto. What an experience!
Other behaviours witnessed were 'bubble net' feeding and breaching. Both drew gasps from our lips.
I would highly recommend anyone who enjoys whale watching or a first time watcher to go to Stellwagen Bank. It can be a bit touristy, but it's easy whale watching, there is no compromise on comfort and you get the later part of the afternoon free to do some sightseeing. The Cape Ann area is lovely and a trip to Boston by train is less than an hour away.
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