Whale watching Cruises are one of the main attractions on offer at Boston Harbor; the other two Cruises being Sunset Cruise and Lighthouse Cruise. Whale watching cruises start at 8:30 AM with a cruise scheduled every 2 hours until 2:30 PM. We made it just in time for the 12:30 PM Whale watching cruise, as a result did not get the time to eat our breakfast/lunch – in a way good, as I later realized an hour into the stomach churning cruise. We did buy some eateries in the cruise; I bought a chicken sandwich (threw away after taking a few bites) and a drink which was supposed to be lemonade.
The skyscrapers appear a bit hazy, but that was so even for the naked eye.
There are birds (not clearly visible) perched on the rocks surrounding the lighthouse, we can also see a speedboat in the back ground.
After about 30 minutes into the cruise, as we went deeper into the Atlantic Ocean, waves started becoming bigger; this resulted in the cruise, particularly the front portion, rise and fall with the waves. Though this was fun for the first few times I did get some weird sensation in my stomach. The best viewing position in such a cruise is in the front part of the boat with as much as an angle of view as possible.
Our first whale sighting was of an adolescent Humpback Whale, which disappeared right after we got a glimpse of it. The Whales being Mammals have to surface every now and then to breathe; we were told that these whales re-surface every 10 minutes on an average. So the cruiser tried to maintain the course which the young Whale was headed in to be in the proximity when it next re-surfaces. We never saw that Whale again. After waiting for 10-15 minutes we headed deeper into the Ocean for other Whale sightings, which, we were told, are plenty in this season.
The Humpbacks spends its summer in cooler, high-latitude waters, but mate and take care of their calves in tropical and sub-tropical waters. This part of the Atlantic Ocean, close to the East coast of US, is supposed to be one of their preferred feeding waters as these waters are rich in Planktons (hence the green colour of the water) which in turn supports more variety of marine life. Humpbacks are baleen whales, which mean they filter their food through baleen plates. They consume krill, anchovies, cod, sardines, mackerel, capelin, and others sorts of schooling fish. As they don’t have teeth (which can be used to estimate age in other mammals) it is difficult to estimate the life expectancy of Humpbacks.
After several minutes of searching the horizon for any kind of whale activity we spotted this:
The easiest way to spot any kind of Whale should be to keep a look-out for Blows. When whales come to the surface to breathe, air is expelled from the blowhole as condensation and appears like a cloud of mist above the ocean surface. Humpbacks have two openings in their blowhole.
It didn’t spend much time at the surface. Here we can see the Whale preparing to dive into deeper waters. The high arching of its back when it prepares to dive – the reason for its more common name: Humpback.
The Humpback usually lifts its tail at the end of its dive. This tail fin lift is such a spectacular sight that the Whale watchers who are least interested in seeing the Whale swim around will go whoa… when it lifts it tail fin before diving in. In fact, the Whale watchers in this particular cruise were chanting “tail… tail… tail…” when the Humpback started to curl its back in preparation to its dive.
Each Humpback whale which visits these shores have been photographed multiple times and the varying patterns on their tail flukes are enough to identify them from one another.
What makes the Humpbacks the most exciting are their singing skills. Their songs have the largest range of frequencies used by Whales, ranging from 20 – 9K Hz. Only males have been recorded singing, till date. These songs are speculated to be part of the mating ritual, but so far these are only speculations.
Date: 15th July, 2007