Blue whale makes rare appearance off Cape Ann

Annelise Eaton

Researchers were excited, thrilled and surprised to see a rare blue whale during their research on Sunday, according to Mason Weinrich, executive director of The Whale Center of New England.

The group was aboard The Mysticete, a 42-foot research vessel based out of Gloucester, when they spotted the whale.

“At that time we were working with a number of humpback whales in the area and we were researching humpback whales and right whales,” Weinrich said.

Researchers observed the blue whale, which was located 15 miles off of the Gloucester coast near a group of humpback whales, for about 45 minutes.

Blue whales, which can be as large as 102 feet, are the largest animals in the world. As a target of whale hunters because of their great size, blue whales were endangered by the 1930s. There are currently thought to be less than 2,000 of them left in the North Atlantic Ocean.

According to Whale Center staff, the blue whale showed little movement during their observation, which suggested that it was feeding on a localized source.

Blue whales feed mainly on plankton, particularly a small shrimp-like crustacean called krill.

Researchers said they were particularly surprised to see this animal since blue whales are typically seen in colder waters near Iceland, Norway and northern Canada.