Surfacing Behaviors: Whale Watch, Gloucester, MA
Division, Midnight, Owl, Palette, Cardhu, Apostrophe, Eden, Glo, Polevault, Tulip, Sirius, Spoon, Regulus, Salt, Nile, Trident - These and other humpbacks return to Stellwagen Bank every summer. You may see one of these familiar ones (most are females) or you may spot others as they surface.
(Additional information: Gloucester Whale Watch)
Listed below are some surfacing behaviors you may observe while you are whale watching in Gloucester, MA.
- Breaching - The humpback whale generates enough speed with its powerful flukes to leap out of the water then will sometimes twist sideways as it reaches the pinnacle of a leap. This rather dramatic acrobatic move is a favorite among guests on a Capt. Bill and Sons whale watch. Gloucester, MA based, The Whale Center of New England is a great resource to find out more (See our Web Links). You can also visit our Gift Shop and find educational books, videos and more, so you too can become an expert on the humpback.
- Spyhopping - This is the humpback's way of "people-watching," though the behavior is used when this cetacean is curious about anything going on above the surface of the water. Whale watching, Gloucester, MA, or anywhere humpbacks are found, is a unique opportunity to see how marine mammals live. These intelligent creatures may not have opposable thumbs, but they have developed sophisticated and fascinating ways of observing their world. When humpbacks are spyhopping, they use a controlled maneuver that combines their natural buoyancy with a careful positioning of their long pectoral fins. With a watchful eye just above or below the ocean's surface, they'll observe whatever sparks an interest, whether it's just us peculiar land mammals or something else.
- Pectoral Fin Display and Slapping - Megaptera novaeangliae, the scientific name for the humpback comes from the Greek "giant wing" and "New Englander." Humpbacks, in fact, have the longest pectoral fins of any whale (up to fifteen feet in length). These lie next to its body when it's moving through the water. However, when it surfaces, this "long-winged New Englander" will lift its pectoral fins (mostly dark on top, mostly white beneath) as it uses them to roll and turn. Slapping its fins as it floats near the surface of the water is another behavior you may see as you whale watch near Gloucester, MA. With a hearty slap, the pectoral fin slams down on the surface of the ocean, producing a resounding echo.
Related information to read: Massachusetts Whale Watching
Video clips from "The Humpback: New England’s Spectacular Whale" © The Whale Center of New England