Springtime Whale Watching on Cape Cod!
Friday, Mar 8 2013 01:14 PM | birdwatching, Cape Cod, finback whales, humpback whales, Hyannis, springtime, Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, vacation week, whale, whale watch, whale watching, whales
Springtime on Cape Cod, and in New England in general, is bittersweet. We'll be treated to beautiful days with mild temperatures accented by daffodils and crocuses in bloom. We'll also be punished by cold, rainy, and raw days that keeps us yearning for summer. So, can one actually plan around such variables to ensure a good springtime whale watch? The answer is yes! With a little bit of planning, early season whale watchers will enjoy a red carpet Cape Cod welcome, uncrowded boats, and some of the most interesting sightings of our whale watch season. This year, Hyannis Whale Watcher Cruises will begin running trips on April 14th, just in time for school vacation week!
Spring finds Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary in a state of flux as the longer days, and the sun's increasing angle, warms the water and infuses the sea with stronger sunlight. Plant plankton explodes into life, fueling the start of the food chain that brings whales and other marine life to our waters. Summer whales are arriving, and winter residents, uncommon the rest of the year linger, before heading off to their summer haunts.
Springtime whale watching! Bundled up passengers, warm sunshine, and a humpback whale.
Four or five month old humpback spy-hops for a look around!
The first thing you should remember is that fine spring weather does not a summer day make. We always advise whale watchers that it will be ten degrees cooler offshore. In spring, expect that to be 20 degrees cooler when you are out on deck. The chilly winter ocean is a cold sink, so prepare for your whale watch by dressing in layers, lots of them. A rule of thumb is that if you look like the Michelin tire mascot, you're good to go! Don't forget hats, gloves and scarves. Also, those chemical hand warmers really do work, and they'll help when you venture out of our heated cabins to watch the whales. Some people bring blankets and stadium seat cushions and simply embrace the elements outside, no matter the weather. You can always heat up inside, and yes we do have hot chocolate, and Irish coffee available at the galley!
Speaking of weather, study up! Watch the local forecast: http://www.capecodweather.net/. If you can, schedule your whale watch in front of bad weather rather than on the backside of it. It can take a couple of tide changes to settle things down after a good blow. Wind is our nemesis in the whale watch business. Wind causes waves, and waves make the boat move in odd ways, if you get my drift. For your comfort, look for days with the least amount of wind forecast.
Choose a day with light wind forecast! Photo: Greatchops
Of course, bring your cameras, along with charged/backup batteries. Try to keep your camera inside your layers, close to your skin. Cold weather drains batteries and nothing is worse than raising your camera for that shot of a lifetime only to be greeted by the infamous flashing red icon! If your camera accepts it, bring a polarizing filter, they're cheap, and will greatly improve your photos.
Finback whales often make appearances in early spring, bring your camera!
Whether for love of baleen, or birds, or simply to finally get out on the water, a springtime whale watch is an amazing experience. Follow our suggestions, bundle up, and we hope to see you aboard!