The bright and sunny skies were a bit misleading of the sea conditions as we embarked on our Monday morning excursion. Our first sighting took place shortly after I had described the efforts to clean Boston harbor that took place a number of years ago with a fully grown northern gannet just after Spectacle Island. As we entered Massachusetts Bay, the large, rolling swells made for a gentle roller coaster ride, one that paused parallel to Grave’s light as we spotted both our first sei whale and pod of harbor porpoise almost within the harbor. Unfortunately the erratic behavior of the sea and its tiny cetacean companions gave us little more than a glimpse at the wildlife, so we continued on. We spotted two more sei whales as we cruised to Stellwagen.

Bounce's fluke
Bounce the humpback whale

Before too long, we spotted one tall blow from a distance as we maintained our 10 knot speed restriction meant to protect the North Atlantic right whales who were sure to be nearby. This slow speed allowed us to pinpoint a number of whales from a distance, and by the time we reached them we estimated 8 to 10 humpbacks. From about a half mile away, I noticed the familiar roll and splash reminiscent of the lunge feeding tendencies of the humpbacks, and sure enough we were treated to bubble rings and close looks! The fish must have been moving around quite a bit, as the whales darted and chased after them. Their feeding style seemed to shift as well, with surface lunges.

The action was not limited to underwater, however, as the gannets plummeted into the water, in some cases only yards away from our passengers watching from the decks. We were also in the presence of two harbor seals and a gray seal.

I do however have some sad news to report. While observing one of the seals, I noticed that it seemed to have a bit of a crease at the water level on its neck. Upon further inspection through photos, it appears as though this animal is entangled with some kind of line wrapped around the neck. The indentation was obvious, and it was a sad reminder of the negative impacts that we have on these wild animals. However, it is important to remember that while reporting entangled animals is a critical response, preventing these incidents from occurring is an even more pressing matter. Choosing sustainably/responsibly caught seafood and supporting efforts to create ‘safer’ fishing gear are two examples of the work that we as a population are capable of. These animals and their (our!) environment is so worth it- we have seen many efforts lead to bigger means of change, let’s stand up for what matters and do all that we can.