Appreciate the Majesty of Whales

The history of Newburyport whale watching and the fascinating sea life you can experience 

Allies and Partners

Editor’s note: This is one in a continuing series of guest opinions about fostering environmental stewardship. The series is coordinated by ACES, the Alliance of Climate and Environmental Stewards.

The Charos family has owned and operated Captain’s Fishing Parties on Plum Island for over 50 years with four vessels in their fleet.

In 2013, Captain’s Fishing Parties purchased Newburyport Whale Watch. Our whale watching vessel the Captains Lady III is the largest in the fleet and is quite fast, reaching top speeds of 30 knots.

Captain Chris is usually found on the Captains Lady III, but his brother Ryan can make appearances as well, however, he focuses more on the day-to-day running of Captain’s Fishing Parties managing behind-the-scenes tasks along with their dad, George.

Whale watching is very cool. Each day is different from the next, making it an adventure for our passengers and our crew. The most common question is: “What’s the best day and time to go whale watching?” The correct answer is: “We will let you know at the end of the season,” every day is different.

Whales are majestic animals and are mammals just like us. They give birth to live young, nurse their young, and have about the same body temperature as us but are huge in comparison to humans.

For example, the finback whale (the second-largest whale in the world) has a brain that weighs 12 pounds compared to the human brain of roughly 3.1 pounds, their intestines are 380 feet long, five to six times as long as their body and consumes 2 tons of food each day!

Humpback whales are fascinating. Growing evidence suggests humpback whales could be the nicest animals in the world. They care for other species and don’t hesitate to intervene to save other individuals from predators.

They are “ocean superheroes.” Humpbacks are known for their magical songs that can travel long distances in the ocean, sounding like moans, howls and cries that can continue for hours on end.

Singing helps them to communicate with others and it helps in finding a suitable mate. Humpbacks have the longest pectoral flippers in the whale world, growing to 15 to 16 feet long.

The smallest whale we see is the minke whale, one of my favorite species who always keep us on our toes. They reach lengths of up to 30 feet, about the length of a half school bus.

They can be tough to keep an eye on due to their erratic and unpredictable swimming patterns. A distinctive feature of a true minke whale is the white stripe they have on their pectoral flippers, giving it the nickname of “minke mittens.”

Not only do we see the whales listed above but we also can see harbor seals, grey seals, ocean sunfish (Mola mola), sharks (sorry no great whites as far as I have seen) and many sea birds.

Newburyport Whale Watch is a “Whale Sense” company. Whale Sense recognizes companies committed to responsible practices and follow the strict guidelines for viewing whales in their natural habitats.

Experience the wonder of whales with Newburyport Whale Watch on The Captains Lady III. We are located at the 54 Merrimac St. boardwalk in downtown Newburyport. Our full-time schedule began Friday, June 16. Book online at Reservations are highly recommended or call 1-800-848-1111.

“With every drop of water you drink, every breath you take, you’re connected to the sea. No matter where on earth you live” — Sylvia Earle.

This column was coordinated by ACES youth corps member Caleb Bradshaw. To share any comments or questions, please send an email to To learn more about ACES and its Youth Leadership Initiative, visit

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