While out on a small research vessels in the humpback feeding grounds of Stellwagen Bank off Cape Cod Massachusetts, we were working a whale named Wizard to collect data on her and her calf.
The calf was surfacing randomly while Wizard was feeding so we were trying to position the boat right to collect data on this calf. While waiting we were floating with the boat engines off, and as we looked around us we realized we were sitting right in the center of a giant feeding bubble net Wizard had made to trap sand lance she was feeding on.
Before we could move much, Wizard, this massive humpback whale bigger than our vessel, comes to the surface, mouth completely wide open, about two feet from the bow of our boat. She lunged forward to close her mouth and just missed contact with us, then started swimming away to drag the water from her mouth. That encounter with Wizard was one of the most nerve racking, exciting, and humbling experiences I’ve had on the water to date.