Adventures in Photography: Whale Watching off Race Point

by Greg Lessard

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A whale watch with the Dolphin Fleet Company of Provincetown is an experience not soon forgotten. The Dolphin Fleet claims to be the original whale watch company, having started their business back in 1975. They may also be the best.
The boat had barely left Provincetown harbor when the first whale was spotted. It was a young humpback, not more than 100 yards off shore.
Shortly after the first sighting, many more humpbacks and a few finback whales were located. This was all within the first half hour of the excursion!
The highlight of the trip came when Dr. Carlson, the Dolphin Fleet’s head biologist, announced that a humpback was splashing its fins off the port side of the boat. Soon, the Dolphin VIII arrived near a mother humpback and her calf. The two whales were playing around in the waters of Cape Cod Bay.
The whale watch quickly turned into a human watch. The humpbacks became very curious about the boat and swam closer for a better look. With the engines cut, the whales stayed along side as the boat drifted for nearly an hour. The animals were so close, that some of the visitors were soaked with spray expelled from a whale’s blowhole!

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There were many more whales off of Race Point. By day’s end the visitors and crew had seen nearly fifteen humpbacks. They had also spotted some finbacks, minkes, white sided dolphins, seals, and numerous seabirds including gannets.
Visitors from as far away as Atlanta and Houston enjoyed the spectacular whale watch. Rebecca Gonzalez drove ten hours from Pennsauken, NJ to see the whales. “These whales are amazing! We’re just so lucky to be here” said Rebecca. “We saw so many humpbacks. There were just so many of them”, exclaimed Colby Gilbert, a 4th grader from the Halifax Elementary School.
Elaine Boudreau from Tiverton, R.I. is a veteran whale watcher. She has taken at least two tours with the Dolphin Fleet every summer since 1977. When asked why she likes the Dolphin Fleet so much, she responded by saying “They work with scientists who are very knowledgeable and they have great respect for the animals.”
Dr. Carol Carlson, loves her work studying whales. Her biggest concern for the whales’ future is not hunting, but pollution. Through her work with the Dolphin Fleet, she hopes to “Make people aware and inspire them to take action to help the whales. Write a letter, pick up plastic off the beach or clean up an oil spill.”
To join Dr. Carlson and the Dolphin Fleet staff on a whale watch, you can visit or call (800) 826 9300.

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This month’s photo tip:
To ensure the best wildlife photo opportunities, seek out the best time and place to view your intended subject. Whales can be found throughout Cape Cod Bay, but the tip of Cape Cod and Stellwagen Bank are famous feeding grounds for whales. Spending time where the whales congregate will increase your chances of getting a great shot!
Greg Lessard is a professional nature photographer. To view more of his photographs, including his latest series on whales, visit his website at