Whales’ Tales: Things to Think about, Look Out for on a Whale Watch

Today’s CoupMe deal (accessible here) got me thinking. So, if you’re on your first whale watch, what are some signs that a pack of whales are nearby? Never having been on a whale watch, I think I’d be a little freaked out if I just looked up and saw a behemoth swimming near the boat. I’ve seen enough shark movies and DVR’ed enough of shark week in the past that basically any movement under the water without me being preparing will make me jump out of my skin. I’m sure once you realize you’re staring at a whale – and not Bruce the shark – your nerves will calm; however, I’d sure like to know what to look or be ready for when old Moby Dick arrives.

According to an article on whale watching, the blow is the first thing to look for. Since whales typically breath through their blowholes, they tend to spray water up with each breath. The resulting splash from these blows can actually be seen up to two kilometers away, if it’s a clear day. These breaths can reach speeds up to 450 kilometers per hour. This would definitely be the best way for me to acknowledge a whale’s initial presence. However, a more common announcement from whales is their act of “breaching.” This is the motion many are familiar with, where a whale quickly leaps out of the water and smacks itself against the ocean, causing large splashes. This act is intended to serve as communication with those in the local vicinity, warning them of its presence. The subsequent splashes as a result of breaching can actually be heard by those underwater for several kilometers.

When researching whales, I came across a number of other interesting facts, as well. Apparently, whales can live more than 100 years and some can actually swim nearly 19 miles per hour. By comparison, the average person can swim between three-and-half and five miles per hour. The whales most typically seen on whale watches are humpbacks, which can weigh up to 45 tons and stretch between 50-55 feet in length. Minkes are also quite commonly seen on watches as well, growing to be between 25-30 feet long and weighing up to 10 tons, or 20,000 pounds … no big deal. Last summer, the Newburyport Whale Watch actually spotted (and easily so, I would guess) a blue whale, which are said to be the biggest mammal and animal to have ever existed. These beasts can grow up to 108 feet long and weigh 180 tons. Yikes.

Despite the enormous sizes of these beasts, I have to imagine seeing one up-close is an incredible experience… you know, once I open my eyes. We’d love to hear any and all experience you all have had with whales or whale watches! Let us know!


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