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Get to Know the Whales of Cape May

During your time aboard the Cape May Whale Watcher, you will have a chance to spot some the world's most majestic creatures. The Atlantic northwest is known for being a migration sector for whales as they travel through the area during winter. Many whales are drawn to the waters off the coast to feast on herring, eels, and baitfish.

Blue Whale

As the largest animal on earth, blue whales are an incredible sight. The whales have a spotted, grey-blue body and small, triangular dorsal fin toward the end of the body. They often show their tails as they dive. Larger whales can grow up to 100 feet long and weigh up to 150 tons. Blue whales swim at a depth of about 45 feet and their spouts shoot water up to 30 feet. Blue Whale sightings in Cape May are very rare.

Blue Whales

Finback Whale

Finback whales are the second largest animal in the world and they grow up to 90 feet long. Their spouts can shoot water over 20 feet in the air. Finbacks are often solitary swimmers. Sometimes known as the greyhound of the sea, these whales can reach speeds of up to 35 miles per hour and have a relatively small dorsal fin. Fin Whales are sighted with great frequency off of Cape May in the Spring and Fall months.

fin whales cape may

Humpback Whale

Each humpback whale has distinct black and white tail markings, and the undersides of their fins are white with black spotting. When the humpback leaps into sight, it's because they are feeding and can easily dine on entire schools of fish. Humpback whales can reach up to 50 feet long and on average weigh 79,000 pounds. Humpbacks are the most common whale sighted off of Cape May and Wildwood, NJ.

humpback whales

Minke Whale

The Minke whale can grow up to 30 feet long. When a Minke whale feeds, it can leap high out of the water and expose as much as half its body. Minke whales often have a distinctive white spot on each pectoral fin, and a large, hook-shaped dorsal fin. The Minke can be difficult to spot due to a lack of spouts, but if you pay close attention they can often be found in the Cape May and Wildwood Crest, NJ areas.

minke whales near cape may

North Atlantic
Right Whale

The North Atlantic Right Whale is highly endangered, however, due to its migration patterns between the Gulf of Maine and winter calving areas in the South, they are sometimes spotted around Cape May. These whales have a wide back, no dorsal fin, and a v-shaped spout. They travel slowly, skim the surface for food, and have a habit of staying close to the coast.

north atlantic right whales

Pilot Whales

Also known as long-finned pilot whales, these whales have a rounder forehead and hook-shaped dorsal fin. Similar to dolphins, they swim leaping forward. They are highly sociable, so if you see one, you're likely to see many more. When pilot whales are "logging," resting on the water's surface, they may allow boats to get close. These denizens of the deep frequent the offshore areas of Cape May, NJ and Lewes, DE.

pilot whale


Atlantic bottlenose dolphins are the most common and well-known marine mammals. These dolphins live in pods and use echolocation to search for prey and communicate. They are grey, varying from dark to light with an almost white underside. They can leap up to 20 feet in the air and live longer than 40 years. These playful pals are sighted daily on many of our trips from North Cape May to Cape May Point, up to Wildwood, Stone Harbor, Sea Isle City and all along the coast. Offshore pods can become massive, with super pods numbering over 500.

atlantic bottlenose dolphins

Along with the whales, you can expect to see dolphins and a variety of birds, many of which are also migrating north and south. If you see a whale and are unsure of its genus, our staff is full of knowledge and ready to help our clients learn more about the whales in Cape May waters. Our staff is Whale SENSE certified annually and knows the various species, their behaviors, as well as the specific rules, regulations and guidelines to follow for the boat and other boaters.
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