Today marks one of the weirdest whale watches I have experienced.

We boarded the Cetacea for the 9 a.m. whale watch and set out toward Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, but instead of making it out to the bank, we spent our entire whale watch less than 8 nautical miles from Boston.

As we cruised past Boston Light, splashing caught our attention. We thought we might have dolphins or porpoises in the area, but then the giant tail of a humpback appeared! Then another humpback, and another, and then two more! There were five to six humpback whales in the area. We were less than a quarter mile from Boston Light and watching humpback whales in 30 feet of water. Within a few minutes, this group started to scatter in different directions. We ended up spending our time with two humpbacks, Sriracha and an unidentified T5.

It was hard to wrap our brains around seeing these huge marine mammals so close to shore. The excitement didn’t end there however, because these two humpbacks then began to forcefully lunge feed! Small fish were flying through the air as these whales burst through the surface with open mouths, just a few hundred yards from Brewster Island. Huge thanks to Captain Billy for maneuvering us around this island territory in order to view this rare occurrence.

whales feeding near Boston Harbor
Whales are close to shore, just off Boston Light.
whales feeding near Boston Harbor
whales feeding near Boston Harbor
Fish fly as whales lunge feed.
whales feeding near Boston Harbor
A humpback lunge feeds.

We did venture out about another mile to see if any of the other humpbacks were still near the harbor. We encountered two other humpbacks, Angus’s 16 calf and another humpback that we have yet to ID. Sadly, this second whale had some pretty obvious and fairly fresh scarring at the base of its tail. After observing these two for a few dives, we started our short trip back to the dock. On our way in, we heard reports from multiple boats of a possible fin whale off Georges Island. We hung out and tried to see if we could catch a glimpse of another marine giant inside the harbor, but it did not surface for us. Overall, an incredible trip to say the least.

— Lorna