Why September is the best whale watching month in Massachusetts

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Local

And where to go for whale watching in and around Boston this fall.

A humpback whale performs a spin in Massachusetts Bay. Pat Greenhouse / Globe Staff

Atlantic wildlife loves September. The persistent warm waters and dwindling crowds make September a beautiful month – and most people in Massachusetts would probably agree.

“September is probably our best month of the whole year,” said Laura Frontierro, commercial director of 7 Seas Whale Watch in Gloucester.

Calves that have fed all summer become playful and active in September, Frontierro said, curiously approaching the boats. “They do something called the spy jump, where they put their big eye over the water and kind of look at everyone,” she said.

Boaters could also see more dolphins in September and October, as the cooling waters bring them back to the area in droves.

“The big obstacles are the humpback whales – that’s usually what we see the most,” Frontierro said, but whale watchers can also spot minke whales, fin whales (the second largest in the world), Atlantic white-sided whales dolphins, mola mola fish and all kinds of birds. Sometimes a few even spot harbor seals, sharks and sea turtles.

Frontierro recommended whale watchers bring a sweatshirt – “it’s always colder out there!” – and an open mind. No two trips are ever the same, she said, so rather than keeping certain expectations, “keep an eye on everything”.

For those who are ready to take advantage of the excellent whale watching conditions in September and October, here are some of the best whale watching within an hour of Boston.

7 Seas Whale Watching
Gloucester

Owned and operated by three generations of family, 7 Seas Whale Watch in Gloucester is technically a fourth generation business – Frontierro’s grandfather fished at the same wharf decades ago. On its way to the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, which stretches from Cape Ann to Provincetown, the 7 Sea ship, the Privateer IV, brings passengers closer to whales and other marine life every year from April to October.

Boston Harbor Cruises
Boston

Boston Harbor City Cruises is teaming up with the New England Aquarium to watch whales at Stellwagen Bank. Ships depart from Central Wharf, right next to the New England Aquarium, and an aquarium naturalist is always on board to share knowledge, explain the marine animals you’ll see, and answer questions.

Cape Ann Whale Watching
Gloucester

One of Gloucester’s most popular whale watches is celebrating its 43rd season this year. Cape Ann Whale Watch has the largest and fastest whale watching vessel north of Boston, quickly bringing passengers to the Marine Sanctuary, where they have even occasionally seen sperm whales, harbor porpoises and blue whales.

Captain Tim Brady & Son
Plymouth

On board their ship, the Mary Elizabeth, Captain Tim Brady & Sons offers fishing charters, whale watching and custom specialty cruises such as singles celebrations and sunset cruises. Their whale watches offer “the safety of big boats” combined with “the privacy of small boats,” their website explains, as the watches explore the Stellwagen bank for all the big hitters – humpback whales, fin whales and minnows. whales, dolphins, sea turtles and various sea birds.

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