This week’s blog entry comes from Ruth Morse, leadership gifts associate for the World Society for the Protection of Animals. Read on for Ruth’s delightful account of her recent whale watching trip.
We often forget to take advantage of tourist activities on our own doorsteps. Despite living in Boston for six years, there are many attractions that I haven’t yet taken the time to experience. Realizing that the last short weeks of summer are already closing in, my husband and I made a last minute decision last weekend to take part in the whale watching tour out of Boston Harbor, something we have always wanted to do.
We arrived bright and early on Saturday, a sweltering hot day, to be greeted with literally hundreds of people also keen to get a first-hand look at the magnificent whale. I was encouraged by the fact that so many were attracted to this animal-friendly activity - people from all over the world, men, women and children of all ages.
After about an hour’s boat ride, during which the Boston city landscape gave way to the charming harbor islands, and then to vast expanses of open ocean, the anticipation began to rise. Small children were clearly excited – “Is that a whale?” they would ask, pointing at every little ripple on the ocean's surface.
Then, suddenly, the boat was full of the gasping and exclamations of excited onlookers, as the first whales appeared in the distance. The boat slowed down and we were treated to exclusive access into the peaceful and rather magical world of the humpback whale.
Far out on the horizon we saw one of the humpbacks diving, on the other side a huge tail rose out of the water, and then two whales appeared closer to our boat, swimming near the surface for several minutes. We saw this pair resurfacing several times, and the novelty never wore off. Every time they dived – one always taking the lead – their tails lifted out of the water, captivating the crowd and prompting countless photographs.
Another highlight of the trip was a distant view of one individual, his or her tail lifted far out of the water and slapping back and forth on the surface – we learned that even whale experts aren’t completely sure what this behavior means. I couldn’t help thinking how complex and beautiful these creatures are, and how privileged we were to have a window into their lives.
I would highly recommend a responsible whale watching trip to anybody who cares about animals. It is a safe and respectful way to view these mammals in their natural environment; a way to observe their behavior without disturbing their freedom. Read WSPA's Compassionate Travel tips on animal friendly wildlife watching or see our guidelines specific to whale and dolphin watching.