Spotted: Humpback whale near the Cape Cod Canal

Jul 19, 2019

A humpback whale was spotted swimming by outer Onset Harbor on Thursday. 

“Whales are occasionally seen in Buzzards Bay, but it is not a prime location for them,” said Jooke Robbins, a Senior Scientist Director of the Humpback Whale Studies Program at the Center for Coastal Studies. “These are wide-ranging animals and this is not far from their common feeding areas further offshore of Massachusetts.”

The Wareham Department of Natural Resources wrote in a Facebook post that the whale was seen swimming between Onset Island and Hog Island Channel.

“This was highly unusual for the area but anything is always possible!” stated the post.

The humpback whale is a species of baleen whale. One of the largest rorqual species, adults range in length from 39 to 52 feet and weigh around 25 to 30 tons.

They feed in polar waters, and migrate to tropical or subtropical waters to breed and give birth, fasting and living off their fat reserves. Their diet consists mostly of krill and small fish. Humpback whale species do not travel in packs but tend to travel on their own or occasionally form small groups, according to Robbins.

“Young whales, in particular, may occasionally stray into unusual spots like these, and may even stay for little if they find enough prey to eat,” Robbins said.

Due to the whale’s proximity to Onset Harbor Channel, the department closed the area to vessel traffic to avoid accidental collision and unnecessary disturbance.

The channel eventually reopened and the whale continued its journey down Hog Island Channel toward Buzzards Bay.