A feeding frenzy of Humpback Whales off Cape Cod

A Whale of a Time

As we headed out of Provincetown on theΒ  northern tip of Cape Cod, we got a sense of anticipation, the area was renowned for good sightings of whales thanks to the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary.

However, while the weather was fair in the harbour a dirty great big fog bank loomed large as soon as we neared the last lighthouse.

Lighthouse on Cape Cod, backed by a bank of fog
Lighthouse and Impending Fog Bank

It is easy to see it now, but it wasn’t then. All of a sudden visibility shrunk to hardly anything.

Trying to see anything in this pea-soup seemed to be a forlorn hope, let alone stumble across whales. Needles and haystacks came to mind.

On we ploughed through the fog. Still hopeful, we were told to keep our ears open – this was the best way to be able to locate them in such conditions.

All of a sudden we seemed to be bang in the middle of them; not just one or two specimens but a whole gathering of more than ten humpback whales. In addition to the noise, the presence of a multitude of seabirds (mainly shearwaters) gave away the location of our prey.

Peering through the fog, this is what we saw:

whale-8

Not a single breach, but a feeding frenzy was taking place in our midst. Despite the drab conditions I fired off some shots on the camera and then worked with them a bit in Lightroom to get a better contrast. So here is a small collection for you to enjoy:

Conditions didn’t allow for great images, but I am happy that the essence has been captured. Our marine guide informed us that there were 18 Humpbacks all feeding at the same point. The noise was incredible.

On the way back we were then accompanied by a pod of dolphins. I left the camera at my side, content to enjoy this marvelous sight without pressing my eye up to the viewfinder. What a way to end the day.

So thank you to Dolphin Fleet Whalewatch out of Provincetown, but most of all thank you nature for putting on another spectacular show.

whale-9

By the time we got back into harbour, exhausted with all the excitement, the light was lowering, but one could still see the bank of fog.

A boat lies in the bay of Provincetown, Cape Cod, MA
Calm Waters

Talk about lucky.

 

25 thoughts on “A Whale of a Time

  1. Absolutely stunning shots for the conditions. And WOW all those whales – love the header shot of them bubble feeding. I’m posting some whales tails tomorrow from my recent Alaska trip and having seen your feeding shots nearly (but not quite) took it off. We did see bubble feeding later in our trip and I will be posting those shots later, but 18!!!!!!!! OMG that must have been incredible.

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    1. Oh the noise of it all Lee, fabulous and these images serve as a nice reminder. Alaska. WOW. That is definitely on my bucket list – guess you had a great time? Glad you are still posting. πŸ‹ xx

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  2. Atlantic Humpbacks move around on different routes throughout the year and have different behavior in different places, as was explained to me on a Humpback watching trip on Silver Bank, north of the Dominican Republic. Many Humpbacks spend the winter there. There is no food for them, so you wont see them eat like you did, but they can be rowdy and breaches were not rare. We saw them up close, which was amazing. Getting good pictures was difficult. Your beautiful pictures bring back the memories. Thanks again.

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    1. Getting good pictures is not easy at all, but enjoying their company certainly is. I know off Cape Cod when we visited in September it was coming to the end of the season and that they were due to be moving on down. We saw breaching off Australia, but not the numbers we saw here. πŸ‹πŸ‹

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    1. The noise was immense and it seemed to me that all the birds were keen to get a bit of the action too, despite their smaller size – guess agility counts for something. Hope all good with you and your palace Jots, MM πŸ€

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    1. I/m no expert, but I would say the general area is the same – the Marine Conservation Bank – Stellwagen. I think the main advantage in going from Provincetown is that one is closer to this bank and therefore sailing time to reach the whales is likely to be less – this does depend upon exactly where they are mind. Of course one has to get to Provincetown in the first place and therein lies the catch….My third, and best, whale watching trip πŸ‹

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    1. Yes, we ended up being really spoilt, our breath was taken away. In 20 years of whale watching the guide said he had never seen as many as 18 all together (and he estimated he had done over 6,000 trips).πŸ‹πŸ‹πŸ‹

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  3. i love the beauty of provincetown, how lucky you are to have seen this. i’ve never done a whale/dolphin watch, but i remember thinking how beautiful it was there in the morning when the tide was out –

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    1. We both liked Provincetown, but our favourite spot on the Cape was Wellfleet. There is plenty of animation in Provincetown along with cafes etc and of course the whale watching. Done whale watching in Australia, Iceland and here and we got the best sights here off Cape Cod – might just have been luck mind…πŸ‹πŸ‹πŸ‹

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