Humpback Whale Leaps and Lands Directly on 19ft Fishing Boat In Massachusetts

Written by Kirstin Harrington
Updated: October 18, 2023
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A whale is seen crashing and crashing on a fishing boat off the shore of Plymouth, Massachusetts, in a local news station’s video dated July 2022. The boat tipped back and forth, and everyone on board steadied themselves.

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With so many people on the water whale-watching, it’s no surprise the whale showed up the way it did. The whale, which looks to be a humpback, is seen erupting from the water in a video of the incident and then landing on the 19-foot boat. The whale then causes the boat to crash into the sea before rising to its feet once more.

A commenter on the footage made an interesting point. They wrote, “You can’t blame the whale. Take a look at all those people whale spotting and crowding them in their feeding zone. People need to think things through more in such a situation and keep a safe distance.”

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“It was insane,” a witness, Ryder Parkhurst, said to a news source. “The guy was just in the wrong place at the wrong time, that’s all. Pops up, bang … right on the bow of the guy’s boat.”

The boater claimed to be a part of a sizable party that was striped bass fishing in Cape Cod Bay. “We saw and heard the screams of excitement from boaters nearby seeing a whale or whales surfacing in the area.” 

Mammoths of the Ocean

While there was minimal damage done to the boat and both individuals on board are safe, there’s no knowing if the whale got injured. The enormous humpback whales can reach lengths of 56 feet. Their large, dark bodies are surrounded by massive pectoral flippers that can reach lengths of up to one-third of their body.

Many Plymouth residents were shocked there wasn’t more damage done to the boat. According to the town, in order to “minimize potential contacts,” boaters should maintain a minimum distance of 100 yards from whales.

“We all felt bad for the whale, wrong place at the wrong time for all of us,” the boater involved in the incident wrote. “We all got bumped around, but went on to live another day.”

According to researchers, humpback whales may communicate by breaching and striking their flukes and fins on the water’s surface. All of the smacking on the surface is thought to produce sounds that are used to communicate with other whales, and the large splashing is thought to be utilized for long-distance communication. 

Whales can also use this time to observe what’s happening above the water and evaluate their environment. The whale must attain its top speed of over 18 miles per hour to fully breach the water’s surface. This is just one reason why it’s so rare to see something as majestic, yet dangerous as the people of Plymouth saw that July morning.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Claude Huot/

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About the Author

Kirstin is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering animals, news topics, fun places, and helpful tips. Kirstin has been writing on a variety of topics for over five years. She has her real estate license, along with an associates degree in another field. A resident of Minnesota, Kirstin treats her two cats (Spook and Finlay) like the children they are. She never misses an opportunity to explore a thrift store with a coffee in hand, especially if it’s a cold autumn day!

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