It’s the start of Memorial Day weekend in Massachusetts, which means its time for hot dogs, hamburgers, pork sausages, barbecued chicken and humpback whales?
Just in time for the start of summer, the humpbacks that frequent the waters of the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary on an annual basis have been showing up in large numbers and delighting whale-watchers for a large portion of the last month.
If you want to head to Stellwagen and get a look at them yourself, consider looking into Boston Travel Deals to get yourself to town and then pick up a Go Boston Card Attractions Pass to gain admittance to some of the top tourist spots in town for one low price.
Whale-watching cruises generally spot a couple of humpbacks (if they are lucky), but the waters off of Stellwagen have been rewarding visitors with sightings of up to a dozen whales or more. In an extreme case earlier this week, 40 humpback whales were seen during a single three-hour cruise.
“The past few weeks have been exceptional,” Laura Howes, the director of marine education and conservation for whale watch trips run by Boston Harbor Cruises, told the Boston Globe. “It’s been an exciting few weeks. It’s a great time to come out.”
If you are looking for a few other things to do that are in the general area, the Cape Cod Baseball Hall of Fame, Cape Cod Maritime Museum and Cape Cod Canal Cruise are all great options that shouldn’t take you too long to find!
Experts believe that large numbers of an eel-like fish called the sand lance have invaded the area around the mouth of Massachusetts Bay, essentially turning Stellwagen Bank into a “whale feeding ground,” according to Howes.
It seems to be a foregone conclusion that the sand lace population in 2014 is undoubtedly larger than it has been in the past.
“The last few years, we didn’t have great numbers,” Jim Douglas, the co-owner of Cape Ann Whale Watch, told the Gloucester Times. “Maybe it was because there were tons of sand eels on Georges Bank and Jeffreys Ledge. But they’ve confirmed they’re feeding on sand eels on Stellwagen right now. We’re seeing a lot of activity, a lot of whales and a lot of open-mouth feeding.”
Humpback whales can eat about a million sand laces per day and it’s estimated that there are about 900 humpbacks living in the New England region. While that obviously means tons upon tons of sand laces are now in the area, scientists aren’t exactly sure why
“What is driving this sand lance population is one of the big mysteries,” Dave Wiley, a scientist at Stellwagen Bank, told the Cape Cod Times. “We just don’t know too much about them, and we really need to.”
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