Given my love for crappy kids books and the BSC in particular, eventually I'll get my snark on and post about Dawn's Family Feud, a fabulous book including a trip to Boston and, yes, a whale watch. But for now it's all about me.
Lots of companies offer whale watches from Boston/Gloucester/eastern MA. I went on the New England Aquarium's whale watch which leaves right from Boston. Convenient. And a decent deal with a combo ticket to the aquarium. For about $50, I got to visit the aquarium and spend almost four hours on a boat. I even saw some whales. Hooray!
The trip begins with a slow-ish half hour, getting out of Boston Harbor. It's quite nice, offering great views of the Boston skyline and nearby islands.
After that, it's the open ocean. Thanks, I think, to plankton, the North Atlantic of the MA coast is pretty green. Not the prettiest ocean around but that's okay. I do have to say it's really nice on the open water. To me, it didn't feel rough at all (they said waves were 1-2 ft.) and the ride was really pleasant.
Our whale watching destination was Stellwagen Bank Marine Sanctuary, home of lots of marine life. It takes about an hour on the open ocean to get to Stellwagen and the trip is relaxing. Whale sightings are guaranteed (if you don't see whales you get a voucher for another trip) and yesterday's trip was not a disappointment. We saw three different kinds of whales including minke whales (apparently they're usually very shy but they seemed to be quite frisky yesterday!) and I think a fin whale. Plus one other. I'll check the log when it's up.
In my experience, contrary to the depiction in books, whale sightings are often pretty brief. Maybe you'll see a spout, a huge dark shape surfacing and disappearing, and that's about it. All from a distance. Which isn't to say it isn't exciting. It is. Whales are wild animals, they're huge and impressive, and it's pretty cool to see them in their natural habitat. I definitely tried to get pictures of the whales but I'm not sure I ever really succeded. Here's one possibility, the dark dot in the middle might be a whale. I think. Or maybe this is the wrong picture. Well, here's a picture of the open ocean:
The actual whale watching portion of the trip lasted about an hour. We traveled a bit through the ocean based on where whales had been sighted recently. The part I found really exciting (honestly) was searching the water and every so often spotting a whale and, along with others on the boat, pointing and shouting. Hard to describe I guess... I think I mean that although there was a naturalist on board, whales would often be seen first by people on the boat. Like me. And it's oddly thrilling.
After the watching of the whales, it was time to head back to Boston. The trip back was really just like the trip out so nothing particularly exciting there. All in all, a fun experience.
Coming up: a post about Wales.
More information: http://www.neaq.org/visit_planning/whale_watch/index.php