I don’t like to choose favorites (yes, I do), but if I were going to choose a favorite whale it would undoubtedly be the humpback whale. These whales honestly have everything going for them in my book of cool whale criteria. They travel in matriarchal societies, they sing beautifully, and their Latin name, Megaptera novaeangliae, hails them as the “big-winged New-Englanders.”
Multiple incidents have been reported, most notably by Jason Bittel of the National Geographic, of humpback whales protecting other species from predators, mostly orcas. According to Bittel there have been approximately 115 cases of humpbacks defending smaller animals, such as seals, smaller whales, or even human beings from predators of the sea. It sounds like someone has been reading their Batman comic books….
These whales don’t just skulk around in the dark depths, saving other marine mammals, they often come up to the surface to play. This makes them absolutely ideal for whale watching. Out of all the whales in Cape Cod Bay, these are the most surface-active, meaning that they frequently engage in activities such as breaching, spyhopping, fin-slapping, and fluking. All of those are just specific terms for whales splashing about in and out of the water—a joy to watch from a large boat, certainly, but probably pretty scary from a little kayak. It is important to remember that even though these guys are gentle giants, they are still giants and you never know where that fin is going to land.