On today’s whale watch we headed in some brisk seas aboard the Salacia to the area west of Stellwagen Bank, known as the “dumping grounds” which was Boston’s historical off shore site for industrial waste barrels in Massachusetts Bay, primarily used in the 1940’s, and then later for dredge material.
Despite the many whitecaps, one of our crew was able to spot the blows of a pair humpbacks, resting and slowly traveling a few meters below the surface, appearing to ride with the waves (in fact we watched this pair pretty much take a zig-zag pattern throughout our whole trip). This pair never graced us with their flukes, but they didn’t seem to mind our boat at all, and hung out with us most of the trip while we idled, amidst several flying northern gannets.
It’s not often over the last few years that our sightings are this close to Boston (roughly 15 miles) and when viewing whales so closely to the Boston skyline (see photo above), as well as over the dumping grounds, it certainly puts things into perspective. We often talk about the human-caused threats whales face, such as shipstrike and entanglement, and I always feel the backdrop of the Boston skyline really emphasizes the juxtaposition of our whales’ “summer home”.
We have wonderful whale watches enjoying this wildlife, but the backdrop of Boston also reminds us that humans are part of the environment too. Large efforts went into cleaning up our once very-polluted Boston Harbor, so perhaps reminding ourselves that we are part of the greater ocean (as we see lobster buoys floating or cargo ships pass by), will inspire others to put the same effort as we did for Boston Harbor.
— Laura Howes