For many people, seeing whales breech and frolic is one of the most exhilarating and sacred things they’ve ever done. There’s something so inspiring about seeing these enormous and ancient creatures so close to the boat. If you’ve never done it, put it on your short list.
On my most recent trip with Dolphin Fleet Whale Watch out of Provincetown, the waters were thick with mothers and calves breeching in unison all around us. Even the naturalists were awed!
Located just 8 miles from Provincetown, the fertile feeding grounds of Stellwagen Bank attract migrating finback and humpback whales. Although the area was designated the country’s first National Marine Sanctuary in 1992, the government’s attempts to control the ocean’s intricate ecosystem don’t always work out as planned.
For instance, whales feed on sand lance, which thrive when herring populations are small. (Herring eat sand lance larvae.) But since the government began protecting dwindling stocks of herring, the number of sand lance larvae has decreased. Some naturalists theorize that humpbacks are heading elsewhere in search of more abundant food supplies. Whale sightings vary each season.
Some summers, sightings are a dime a dozen (although it never feels that blasé); other times, not. Although whale-watching outfits guarantee sightings (in the form of a free voucher for another trip), you may not have another afternoon to spare.
Bring a sweater (even in summer), and seasickness pills if you think you’ll need them. If you’re prone to seasickness, do not stand out on the bow of the boat.