In my opinion, possibly the best part of living on the North Shore is the ocean at our doorstep. We have a myriad of beaches and waterfront parks to choose from, with land and sea activities for just about everyone. This year I decided to do one activity I have never tried: going on a whale watch. Although I have lived on the North Shore for my entire life, I have never really enjoyed boating, so I never saw the attraction of going out on the open water to maybe see a whale’s tail.
What convinced me to actually go on a whale watch were two things. First, I learned that about 12 miles off the coast of Gloucester is Stellwagen Bank, a feeding ground that is very popular with a wide variety of whale species. This year sand lances, a favorite food of humpback whales, are in unusual abundance in the bank. The result is an usually high concentration of humpback whales in the area, which is great news if you are heading out on a whale watch!
But what really convinced me to go were two of my adorable nephews and my adorable niece. How could I say no to a sunny afternoon with three kids young enough to still think their aunt is The Greatest?
The day was indeed perfect – sun and clear skies as far as the eye could see. We boarded the ship, put on our coats, hats, mittens, sunblock, and sunglasses, and got underway. Watching the coastline disappear behind us was fascinating, and before we knew it we were out in the open ocean. An especially nice feature of the trip was that ship employees came around with photos and models of the whales and Stellwagen Bank. They provided everything we could ever want to know about the whales and their environment, and patiently answered all our questions.
The ship sped along quickly, and in just over an hour a whale was spotted! No wait, there were two whales! We were lucky enough to have come across a twenty-seven year old humpback named Nile and her brand new calf. Nile and her baby seemed to enjoy our company, rolling, breeching, and slapping the water on both sides of the ship as we passengers ran from side to side, cameras at the ready, to ooh and ahh. It was exciting and awesome. Kids and adults alike were enjoying the spectacle.
After about an hour, it was time to head back. The trip back to shore seemed to take even less time, and our adventure was over all too soon. It was a great way to spend the day, chock full of fresh air, fun time together, and even a bit of education along the way. Although I am still not a fan of water sports, I highly recommend going on a whale watch at least once in a lifetime. After all, not everyone can just go out on the water any old time like we can!