Five Things to Know About Mass Audubon
While its name evokes birds, Mass Audubon's work goes beyond ornithology to cover all aspects of wildlife, nature, and the preservation of the two. Whether it's working with city parks, forests, or the state's massive coastline, Mass Audubon's goals stay the same: conserve, educate, and advocate. Read on to learn more about the society:
It predates the National Audubon Society. Two women founded it as the Massachusetts Audubon Society in 1896 (the National Audubon Society began in 1905). The founders worked to persuade women not to wear bird's feathers in their hats, as the fashionable plumes were decimating bird populations.
More than 300 species of birds live in or fly through the state. And each year, birders compete in a Mass Audubon fundraiser to see who can spot the most in a 24-hour period.
It protects more than 26,000 football fields worth of land. With more than 35,000 acres, the society is the largest private owner of conserved land in Massachusetts.
330,000 people are educated each year through Mass Audubon programs. These include classes, camps, and events geared toward kids, families, and adults at its sanctuaries and in the community.
Some of its trails are ADA-accessible. A grant allowed Mass Audubon to add multisensory content such as Braille text, audio tours, and wider boardwalks to trails in eight of its sanctuaries.
During tours with Massachusetts Bay Lines, passengers can watch the sun dip behind the city from the middle of the harbor. Lights
flicker on across the skyline, poking holes in the setting darkness and pinpointing each building's location. All the while, the water laps against the side of the boat, providing a soothing soundtrack.
Massachusetts Bay Lines has specialized in stunning views such as these for over 50 years. The family-owned company operates out of Rowes Wharf in downtown Boston, and its fleet includes a total of five unique vessels, instead of just one boat with a different name painted on the side each week. Customers can rent these boats out as private charters, or they can climb aboard for music and group tours of the harbor, which cruise past the 200-year-old USS Constitution and many more of the city's historic sites.
As the sun makes its retreat into the horizon, the whales of Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary come out to play. Their elephantine fins slap the waters with such zeal that the pod seems to be putting on a performance for the catamaran of whale watchers in their midst. This end-of-day nature show experienced by passengers aboard Boston's Best Cruises’ New England Aquarium Whale Watch is hardly a rarity, as the ship’s crews guarantee sightings of these gentle giants with each excursion.
Champions of the natural beauty of Boston Harbor and the area’s rich maritime history, Boston's Best Cruises’ expert crew sets sail on cruises to suit all manner of interest. Along with their whale watches, Boston’s Best Cruises whisks passengers away on Harbor Cruises that grant unimpeded views of the Boston skyline and the King Kongs pumping fists within its skyscrapers. The Salem Ferry facilitates leisurely cruises between Boston and the historic city, and aquatic outings to the Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area enable activities such as sunset clambakes, hiking, and fishing.
Capt. Bill and Sons Whale Watch started more than 50 years ago, but the late Captain Bill Cunningham can't take full credit for his business' creation. In many ways, the whales themselves founded the company, though they still made Bill do all of the paperwork. Capt. Bill and Sons originally chartered deep sea fishing trips, but the anglers would often get distracted when a humpback or minke whale breached the surface. Seeing how the majestic mammals awed his passengers, the company decided to stow its fishing rods and set out on whale-watching tours instead.
Today, the Capt. Bill and Sons team—which includes son Marc—welcome whale-watchers aboard their two-tiered ship, the Miss Cape Ann. Once they head out into the water, the experts share tips on
spotting whales and insights into the animals' behavior, biology, and social structure. Passengers should look sharp for other species as well, as
the waters around Stellwagen Bank and Jeffreys Ledge are also home to Atlantic white-sided dolphins and harbor seals.
By the Numbers: 7 Seas Whale Watch
15 species of whales have been spotted off the coast of Gloucester
30 feet—the minimum length of the seven “great whale” species you might see, including the humpback whale, the minke whale, the North Atlantic right whale, and the blue whale (the world’s largest animal!)
99% success rate for whale sightings since 1983; if the trip doesn’t spot one, you’ll be issued a voucher for another cruise
12 miles from Gloucester Harbor to Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, so there’s less time spent traveling and more time spent whale watching
149— the maximum number of passengers permitted on The Privateer IV, which accommodates 300, to ensure safer, better views
1 onboard naturalist or marine biologist helps passengers spot whales and other marine animals (such as dolphins, sharks, and seals), then describes the species and the behaviors being observed
Since 1979, the whale-watching pioneers of Cape Ann Whale Watch have escorted more than half a million spectators fascinated by the sea's magnificent leviathans on three- to four-hour treks 15 miles off the Gloucester coast, earning it a spot on the Top 5 American Whale-Watching Tours by Joshua Horwitz, author of War of the Whales. Aboard the lightning-fast 115-foot
Hurricane II, passengers can witness the natural grace of humpback whales, finback whales, dolphins, and pirates disguised as mermaids feeding and frolicking just feet from the boat. In the course of the approximately 30-mile circuit, a naturalist from Whale Cetacean Alliance narrates excursions, illumining the sight of each water dweller by discussing why whales breach, how to recognize individual humpbacks, and various feeding styles.