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We need whale poo 📷 WDC NA

Whales are our climate allies – meet the scientists busy proving it

At Whale and Dolphin Conservation, we're working hard to bring whales and the ocean into...
Minke whale © Ursula Tscherter - ORES

The whale trappers are back with their cruel experiment

Anyone walking past my window might have heard my groan of disbelief at the news...
Boto © Fernando Trujillo

Meet the legendary pink river dolphins

Botos don't look or live like other dolphins. Flamingo-pink all over with super-skinny snouts and...
Risso's dolphin entangled in fishing line and plastic bags - Andrew Sutton

The ocean is awash with plastic – can we ever clean it up?

You've seen pictures of plastic litter accumulating on beaches or marine wildlife swimming through floating...
Fin whale

Is this the beginning of the end for whaling off Iceland?

I'm feeling cautiously optimistic after Iceland's Fisheries Minister Svandís Svavarsdóttir wrote that there is little...
Mykines Lighthouse, Faroe Islands

Understanding whale and dolphin hunts in the Faroe Islands – why change is not easy

Most people in my home country of the Faroe Islands would like to see an...

Dolphin scientists look like you and me – citizen science in action

Our amazing volunteers have looked out for dolphins from the shores of Scotland more than...
Atlantic white-sided dolphins

The Faroes dolphin slaughter that sparked an outcry now brings hope

Since the slaughter of at least 1,423 Atlantic white-sided dolphins at Skálafjørður in my home...

A Humpback whale in Boston Harbor

Heidi Hansen is a seasoned WDC intern, who now serves as a naturalist for Boston’s Best Cruises, writes about the humpback in Boston Harbor. 

Memorial Day weekend in Boston Harbor is one of the busiest times of the year – representing the start of the summer recreational season, and if the weather is nice, many people spend their extra day out on the water.

Those visiting Boston for a whale watch this Memorial Day were able to glimpse an extremely unusual sighting – a wayward humpback whale that had wandered almost all the way to the inner harbor, first sighted off the breakwater of Logan Airport.

As a naturalist on Boston’s Best Cruises’ whale watch vessel, the Voyager III, I have seen a number of bizarre occurrences in Boston Harbor over the last couple of seasons. Last September there was another whale sighting in the harbor, however this turned out to be the carcass of a juvenile fin whale that had floated in. A live whale in the harbor, however, has not happened since 2005.

Busy with tourism and private boaters, fishing vessels, and large container and cruise ships, Boston Harbor can be an extremely treacherous place for our whales, particularly on one of the biggest tourism days of the year. Thankfully, however, this youngster had a number of helpers from the Boston police force, environmental police, and aquarium keeping watch and alerting boaters traveling through the harbor to its presence. Additionally, while the channel in Boston Harbor is approximately 40 feet deep at low tide, there are many very shallow places where a whale could strand.

As we left on the Voyager III for our morning whale watch, we were able to get a brief glimpse of this young humpback whale off of Deer Island head light in the outer harbor, which meant that the whale was moving in the right direction – back out to sea! Monica, our project supervisor, and new intern Elizabeth documented this individual with GPS and photo-identification data, though we have yet to get a positive ID.

When we returned from our trip, the whale appeared to have been completely clear of the harbor. While it is very unclear as to why the whale ended up in the harbor in the first place, we are thankful that it eventually found its way back to safer and deeper water.