Boston is an excellent location to undertake whale watching. From Boston harbor you can select a cruise that will take you towards the Stellwagen Bank Marine Sanctuary. As a bonus you will get scenic views of the Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area and the waterfront of Boston Harbor.
The Gerry E. Studds Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary sits at the mouth of Massachusetts Bay and is rich feeding ground for whales, dolphins, sea birds and many more. It is one of 14 sites in the United States’ National Marine Sanctuary System. The Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary is situated at about three miles north of Cape Cod, and three miles southeast of Cape Ann, at the mouth of Massachusetts Bay.
If you board a whale watching cruise in Boston Harbor, then the 3 to 4 hour cruise will first sail passed several of the Boston Harbor Islands, which also is the location of the Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area, managed by the National Park Service and the Boston Harbor Islands Partnership. The Boston Harbor Islands includes 34 islands and peninsulas and a Civil War-era fort, historic lighthouses, several trails and even places to camp. To reach the islands you can take ferries in the Summer season from the Boston harbor.
On my recent whale watching trip we were treated with viewings of a ocean sunfish (Mola mola) and several very active humpback whales. The Mola mola the heaviest known bony fish that exists and it can have a weight between 247 and 1,000 kilograms.
The humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) is one of the larger rorqual species, and adults can become 12 to 16 metres long and weigh around 36,000 kilograms. The whales trotted us with their well-known slapping of the water with the tail and pectorals, and their acrobatic breaching.
If you get lucky, or take plenty whale watching cruises, then you can spot several other kinds of large whales in the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, such as finbacks, minkes, pilot whales and the critically endangered right whales. Massachusetts has been called by the World Wildlife Fund named one of the top 10 whale watching spots in the world.
Another treat are the great scenic views of downtown Boston and the Boston waterfront at North End that you will get from the ferries to the Harbor Islands or the whale watching cruises..
Text and Photography by Jan Haenraets