Inside Look at Cape Ann Whale Watch
Hop On Board and Behind the Scenes with Captain Jim
For whale watching excitement in New England, look no further than Gloucester, MA, where Captain Jim Douglass and the crew of Cape Ann Whale Watch are ready to show guests the whales. His crew takes guests out on Stellwagen Bank, a national marine preserve, to get up close and personal with these majestic beauties.
For 38 years and counting, Cape Ann Whale Watch has been educating and inspiring visitors from all over the state, country, and beyond about up to 85 marine life species that could be living in the area. Started in 1979 by Captain Fred Douglass, Cape Ann Whale Watch is now led by his son, Captain Jim, who has led over 4,000 whale watches. “It’s peace and tranquility,” said Captain Jim when asked of his time as captain, “you’re dealing with nature and nature’s animals.”
Sightings are guaranteed, and while they’re not always grand, Humpback Whales are common to the area and almost always make an appearance. “They’re the most acrobatic, they put on a show for us,” said Captain Jim. Cape Ann Whale Watch has been following one Humpback Whale, in particular, Salt, who happens to be the oldest studied whale in the ocean. “Salt is a great, great grandmother,” said Captain Jim, “we’re able to track the family lineage of the whales.”
Marine wildlife experts and the crew at Cape Ann are able to track and name whales by observing the underside of a whale’s fluke, which is similar to a human fingerprint. Guests learn fun facts such as this during the whale watches from Cape Ann’s Education Coordinator, Cynde Bierman. When she’s not busy guiding whale watch cruises, Bierman gives talks at local schools and libraries to spark local curiosity about whales. “We have some whales we know that are just as curious about us as we are of them,” said Captain Jim, “They get so close, they come right up and look you in the eye.”
Getting visitors out into open water and in such close proximity to the whales carries with it a great deal of responsibility, on that, Captain Jim does not take lightly. “You have 250 people’s lives in your hands,” said Captain Jim, “the most challenging part is making sure everything is safe.” The Hurricane II is the main vessel of Cape Ann Whale Watch, one they proudly boast as being the fastest whale watching vessel north of Boston. Rightfully so, as the Hurricane II can travel up to 30 knots thanks to its four diesel engines.
At the end of the day, what matters most to the crew of Cape Ann Whale Watch is that all visitors walk away with everlasting memories and a newfound appreciation of whales. “The look on people’s eyes when they see them for the first time,” said Captain Jim, “some people cry…people are blown away.”
-By Ettractions Digital Content Editor, SARAH LEITH
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