Friday, 31 May 2013

Whale of a sight in Boston Harbor

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

A juvenile humpback whale was spotted in Boston Harbor early yesterday before making an exit to open water in the afternoon, a rare sighting so close to shore.

The whale was spotted swimming by Spectacle and Deer islands by the captain aboard an 8 a.m. Boston Harbor Cruises boat, said Laura Howes, director of marine education and conservation at Boston Harbor Cruises.

The whale spotted in the harbor, she said, looked to be about 20 to 30 feet in length.

By 10 a.m. yesterday, Howes said, a buffer zone had been set up by the Coast Guard and Environmental Police.

“Any whale this close to land is pretty unusual,” Howes said. “The middle of an urban harbor is not a great place for any large whale to be.”

Humpback whales are common in Cape Cod Bay this time of the year, Howes said, but usually much farther off shore. Seeing a whale this close “was a nice treat,” Howes said. The last time a whale was spotted this close to the shore was in April 2005, when a juvenile humpback whale spent three days roaming in the harbor.

The harbor, however, is an inconvenient place for any whale to be on Memorial Day. An influx of recreational boats feeding through the area posed a threat. At 11 a.m. yesterday, Howes and her colleagues went further off shore to look for other whales. When they returned at 1 p.m., the whale had swum off.

“We hope it got off shore and that we won’t see it again,” Howes said.

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