Over the weekend, an enormous humpback whale breached and landed on the front of a boat in Plymouth near White Horse Beach. In a news release following the incident, the Plymouth Harbormaster shared that the humpback was a juvenile and that it landed on a 19-foot boat.
The encounter occurred around 10 a.m. on Sunday morning in the village of Plymouth on Cape Cod Bay off the coast of Massachusetts. The area is a popular destination for locals and tourists alike who hope to catch a glimpse of whales. The majority of the whales spotted in the area have been humpback whales, which can reach upwards of 55 feet and can weigh 40 tons. Thankfully, the juvenile humpback, nor the boat or its passengers, were hurt during the crazy scenes.
With several boats in the water and many onlookers on land, multiple people took photos and video of the incident. A short clip shows the whale breaching as it leaps out of the water and lands directly on the front of one boat. The weight of the large marine animal causes the front of the sea vessel to dip down underneath the water. The whale then slides off the boat and back into the water with no signs of injury, according to the Harbormaster.
Following the encounter, the watercraft returned to Plymouth Harbor’s boat ramp and was safely removed from the water. Massachusetts Environmental Police then took over the investigation from the Harbormaster.
“This interaction, while rare, is a reminder that these interactions can be dangerous for both boaters and whales,” the Harbormaster wrote in the press release.
Officials Warn Boaters to Keep Their Distance From the Whales
Among the crowd there on Sunday was wildlife photographer Suzanne O’Shea. She came to the area after hearing about people spotting the whales there several times in the past week. After numerous recent whale sightings, she traveled to the coast on Tuesday evening to take advantage of the scenes. She’s been there to witness the humpback whales breaching near boats in the bay all week.
“When it breached, you just click and hope you get that picture,” O’Shea said to The Patriot Ledger. “I didn’t check right away because then you don’t if they’re going to breach again. So I checked a little while later. And I was like, ‘Oh, my God, I got the picture!'”
All things considered, the animal and the boaters are all lucky to have walked away from the interaction without injury. The Plymouth Harbormaster Department also shared warnings about boaters keeping their distance from the huge sea creatures. They’re asking that locals keep their distance for the whales’ safety and their own.
That’s a sentiment that the Whale and Dolphin Conservation agree with, sharing that boaters should give whales a buffer zone of at least 100 feet. Monica Pepe, Whale and Dolphin Conservation’s Safe Boating Policy Manager, also spoke with The Patriot Ledger about the whale sightings.
“We love the enthusiasm that local residents are showing for these whales off our coast and want people to enjoy them while they are here. But it’s important that they do it safely,” Pepe explained. “The whales are moving sporadically while trying to catch fish, so boat operators in the area should be proactive and make sure they are at least five boat lengths away.”