Gloucester, Massachusetts is a smaller city that lies on Cape Ann along the North Shore. It’s Harbor plays a significant part in the local fishing community.
Gloucester was settled in 1623 and became a township in 1642. To this day, it holds fast to its deep rooted colonial and maritime history.
Before we continue, I would like to introduce myself. My name is Anthony. My partner and I had the opportunity to experience the Cape Ann Whale Watching Tour. With that said, I will be your personal guide throughout this amazing adventure. Not only did we see a pod of White Sided Dolphins and several species of whales, but miles of beautiful blue Atlantic Ocean. There is also a ‘must see’ video attached to the end of this article. It provides a first hand view of our day on the water. Lets go ahead and begin our tour.
The Hurricane II is a 115 foot vessel that offers 400 feet of viewing area, has a heated cabin with padded seats, a full galley and beverage bar. Boarding started at one o’clock and departing time was 1:30. The round-trip tour lasts 3 to 4 hours.
After having refreshments at the Seaport Grille, we boarded the boat. We found seats on the upper deck – port side looking towards the bow. With clear skies and a slight breeze, it was a perfect day to be on the water.
While motoring out of the harbor, we passed by a few seafood warehouses. Have you ever watched National Geographic’s Wicked Tuna? Gloucester Harbor is where boats staffed with professional fishermen set out to catch large Blue Fin Tuna.
They come back in to sell their bounty to these seafood wholesalers. It can be quite profitable! Being one of our favorite shows, it was rather interesting to see where it’s actually filmed!
We also passed a centuries old company that changed the boating industry forever. The “Tarr & Wonson Paint Maunfactory” developed the first copper based paint for sea going vessels.
These maritime pioneers created a coating that protected the bottom of boats. Captains were having a problem with sea growth clinging to their hulls. The paint helped with the boat’s speed and maneuverability.
There is one more iconic fixture to point out. Did you know there are 5 lighthouses along Cape Ann’s rocky shoreline. As some of you may know, I am a lighthouse fanatic. This particular sighting made the day that much better!
The Annisquam Light was erected in 1801 and remains at the foot of the harbor. With all the GPS systems a Captain uses today, a lighthouse is still a comforting sight.
Once we hit open waters, it took right at an hour to reach the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary. According to the World Wildlife Fund, this preserve is one of the “Top 5 Whale Watching Destinations in the World”.
Numerous species such as the Humpback, Minke, Northern Right, Sperm and Pilot whales can be seen. They migrate here to feed and enjoy the natural resources offered in this protected area.
At this point in our tour, we were approximately 18 miles off shore before we spotted our first whale. We had a Marine Biologist narrating throughout the whole tour. She was very familiar with the whales who visit the area annually. We spotted two of her favorite Humpbacks whales named Valley and Ravine. They just happened to be feeding as we arrived.
With whales having most of their body mass below the waterline, it would be rather hard to recognize them from a boat. The way our tour guide explained how she recognizes the whales is by the markings on their flukes – these are the 2 lobes of the tail.
Our guide takes detailed notes every trip she makes. What a great job to have. Not only does she spend lots of time on the water, but gets to know all the surrounding marine life! The tail shown right is Ravines’.
The ‘Cape Ann Whale Watching Tour’ was one of our most exciting nature assignments yet. In my younger days, I went whale watching in Maui. What made this trip different? There was much more activity and closer to the boat. The written and still photography in this blog-article tells very little of our actual experience. The video below will give more of a front row view. We hope you enjoyed the dialog and photos. Stay tuned for the video!
Photography: Anthony & Maureen Scopel
Video: Anthony & Maureen Scopel
Article Creator & Formatting: Anthony Scopel
Video Production: Anthony Scopel & Matt Kemper
Associate Editor: Maureen Scopel
Technical Mastering & Web Support: Matt Kemper
Publishing Provide By: You, Me and The Dock
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