New England Aquarium Whale Watch Season Ends with Large Feast

Five 40-50 foot humpback whales feed in a frenzy at Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, just north of Cape Cod on the Sunday before Thanksgiving. Boston Harbor Cruises/Laura Howes

BOSTON – The New England Aquarium’s last Whale Watch trip of the season was held on Sunday and guests who braved the cold were treated to a lot of action.

Upwards of 50 humpback whales were spotted during the three-hour cruise of Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary about 25 miles east of Boston.

The whales were most likely feasting on sand lance, a small schooling fish sometimes found in abundance north of Provincetown.

The high number of whales is not uncommon but is rarer in the fall as food is scarcer and some whales have already migrated south.

 “It was an exhilarating afternoon of watching numerous groups of 3-5 individuals each hastily working together to feed beneath the surface,” said Laura Howes, Director of Research and Education. “We witnessed many groups quickly dive and turn in many directions, working fast to corral fish and often charging at the surface while trumpeting loudly. On a few of the surfacings, we saw 2-3 groups seeming to narrow in on the same prey.” 

Humpback whales are a protected species but do face considerable human-caused threats. 

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