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Cape Cod Whale Watching On Cape Cod - A Truly Spectacular Adventure

If you’re visiting Cape Cod between the months of April and October, one of the most thrilling ways to spend a few hours is on a Cape Cod whale watching trip. It is the quintessential Cape Cod day trip that millions of visitors have made since 1975 when the very first whale watching boats set out from Provincetown harbor.

If you’re looking for a Cape Cod adventure, and you’re visiting between the months of April and October, a Cape Cod whale watching trip is highly recommended. A short boat trip out to sea will bring you up close to these spectacular creatures for a few hours. It’s a journey that millions of tourists have made in the 35 years since the very first whale watching boats set out from Provincetown in the spring of 1975.

There was a time when Cape Cod and the nearby island of Nantucket formed the epicenter of the whaling industry. In fact, Provincetown was once the fifth busiest whaling port in the entire world. The demise of that industry came long before whaling was banned by the international community in 1972, and nowadays the focus has shifted to eco-tourism, with the “hunts” being carried out, not with harpoons and spears, but with cameras and binoculars.

Provincetown and Barnstable are the two harbors from which the vast majority of Cape Cod whale watching trips depart. Plymouth, which is about 20 miles off-Cape, also acts as a departure point for whale watchers living on the South Shore. All three departure points take you to essentially the same place, the Stellwagen Bank Marine Sanctuary. This is a federally protected area of the ocean that sits above huge undersea plateau that was left behind after the last ice age. The shape of this plateau forces ocean currents to the surface, bringing with them all manner of nutrients. Whales and other sea mammals hang out there all summer long, feasting on the bounty of this massive feeding ground.

If your aim is to get out to the whales and spend as much time as possible in their company, Provincetown is the best place to depart from. It’s only six miles from Stellwagen Bank and operators who sail from there can get you where you want to be quicker than anyone. But Provincetown can be a real hassle to get to through the summer traffic, and parking can be both difficult and expensive. So visitors staying in the Upper Cape or Mid-Cape regions often choose to leave from Barnstable harbor instead.

Either way, you’ll certainly see plenty of whales. In fact, operators are so confident that they will be able to find the whales that they promise to take out again for free if they’re not able to locate them on any given trip. The boats they use are all designed with whale watching in mind, with spacious viewing decks and climate controlled interiors. An on-board naturalist is available on every trip to answer questions and explain some of the whales’ behaviors, such as spyhopping, breaching or sounding.

There are five types of whales commonly found in the waters around Cape Cod. These are the the humpback, the finback, the minke the sei and the pilot. The three you are most likely to see on a Cape Cod whale watching trip are are finbacks, humpbacks and minkes. Years ago, northern right whales were also common to this part of the world but they’re very rare nowadays, with perhaps as few as 300 left in the whole Atlantic Ocean.

Passengers should be ready to spend up to four hour on the water and be prepared for any changes in the weather that might come with that. Trips depart throughout the day - mornings, afternoons and sunsets so dress in layers. A trip that departs on a warm and sunny late afternoon can get quite chilly by the time the sun goes down over the ocean.

It’s a good idea to take along a windbreaker, preferably a waterproof one, since you are quite likely to get wet. By the way, a change of clothes left in the car on dry land will make any sightseeing you plan to do around town after your whale watching trip is over that much more comfortable. You’ll also need to wear good shoes with traction, sun block and a hat. Some people take binoculars but the whales come up so close to the boat that they’re really not necessary. But do remember to bring a camera.

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Posted by CapeGuy - (website) on 02/24/11
Categories: ActivitiesBarnstableProvincetown
Keywords: cape cod whale watching, whale watch, Cape Cod, whale watching on cape cod, Provincetown whale watch


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