Having a whale of a time with the family

Whales
Whales

At this time of year farm vetting is a bit quieter so it’s a chance to get away for time with the family.

My family and I headed to Boston and spent a pleasant two weeks in the city, and then by the sea at Cape Cod.

The highlight of the holiday was a whale-watching boat trip out of Provincetown Port into Massachusetts Bay.

Within the bay is Stellwagen Bank, an underwater plateau stretching 19 miles by six miles.

Deep-water currents rise up when they hit the steep bank, bringing nutrients and minerals from the bottom, creating a rich feeding ground for birds, fish, sharks, seals and whales.

After sailing for about 35 minutes, the boat stopped and in front of us were a pair of humpback whales.

The boat turned and about 100 people rushed to the port side for a look.

I was excited to see the whales, but was thinking ‘are we going to get a closer look if this boat tips over’?

We didn’t.

We then spent the next two hours watching humpback and minke whales surfacing and diving.

It was fascinating and awesome to see such massive and amazing mammals up close and in such great numbers.

The humpbacks are more photogenic as they are bigger, stay on the surface for longer and have the fluked tail, which typically rises above the surface when diving.

We had missed the North Atlantic right whales, which come in April and are critically endangered.

The whale-watching crews gather data on the tourist trips and identify the whales by their markings.

Numbers of right whales being counted are decreasing alarmingly, 450 in 2016, 300 in 2018, and no calves have been seen for the last two years.

The two main causes of death for these whales are being struck by ships and entanglement in fishing gear.

Cape Cod is also famous for the great white shark, which we didn’t see, thankfully, despite numerous sightings while we were there.

The number of great white sightings are increasing rapidly in the last few years. This coincides with seals coming closer to shore – the sharks are following for their meal. So if you see a seal, you get out of the water. Since our visit, a surfer has been attacked and several beaches temporarily closed due to shark sightings.

I asked a fisherman ‘do you see many sharks here’? His quick reply didn’t reassure me.

“No, you don’t see a shark, you just feel it.”

However it didn’t put us off swimming too much.