Whale watching along the East Coast originated in Provincetown, Massachusetts in the 1970s and the most common destination for those vessels was an area that is now Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary. Watch this Story from the Blue video to learn more. Whale watching has become a major industry and recreational activity with the primary focus on humpback whales due to their reliable presence and dramatic behaviors.
USA Today’s 2016 Top10 survey for “Best Places in the US to See Aquatic Life” put Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary in the top spot. Other lists from environmental organizations, magazines, and newspapers have ranked the sanctuary among the world’s premier whale watching locations.
Several whale watching operators, from Newburyport to Provincetown, Massachussettes, make regular trips out to the sanctuary and adjacent waters. Schedules vary, but most companies offer trips from the beginning of May until the end of October, although several may start earlier or end later in the season. Check the Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism’s Whale Trail website for links to daily whale watch operations, and visit individual companies’ websites to learn more about specific trip details.
Whale SENSE recognizes whale watching companies committed to responsible practices. The program originated with NOAA Fisheries, Whale and Dolphin Conservation, and Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary. In recognition of their commitment to protecting whales, participating companies are approved to display the Whale SENSE logo. This logo indicates to passengers that a company follows responsible whale watching practices.
Visit Whale SENSE, to learn about responsible whale watch operators and tips for your whale watching experience.
Some boaters spend time whale watching during their on-the-water excursions or fishing trips. If you decide to stop and enjoy the spectacular show, please take these precautions:
Learn about the wide range of species you could encounter during a whale watch.
Learn how researchers distinguish one humpback from another by identifying their unique “fluke prints.”