Gloucester, Massachusetts—about a one-hour drive from Boston and two hours from Cape Cod—is a popular spot for whale watching. According to 7 Seas Whale Watch, which hosts boat tours from mid-April to mid-October, the waters off Gloucester are great places to see humpback, finback, and minke whales. As WCVB Channel 5 Boston reports, a Massachusetts man recently caught a spectacle on camera that even experienced whale-watchers would be impressed by.
The video below recorded by Doug Shatford shows a massive whale breaching from the sea surface just a few feet from his boat. Breaching occurs when a whale thrusts its body out of the water. They perform the behavior for several reasons, including to communicate with other members of their species and to stun prey. The whale in this scenario appears to grab a mouthful from a school of fish as it rises from the sea.
Gloucester is located between two major whale feeding centers called Stellwagen Bank and Jeffreys Ledge. Strong currents colliding with the steep sides of underwater cliffs results in something called upwelling, which happens when cool, nutrient-rich water from the seabed is sucked to the surface. When this water is exposed to sunlight, plankton blooms form that attract the same small sea animals large whale love to eat. That's why the waters outside Gloucester are considered one of the world's prime whale-watching locations.
The breach captured by Shatford is a rare sight, but it only displays a fraction of what whales are capable of. Despite weighing up to 40 tons, humpback whales can jump completely out of the water, as this video demonstrates.
[h/t WCVB Channel 5 Boston]