Following the Capelin: Whale Watching in Newfoundland

More than 3,000 whales live in the waters near Newfoundland. Being up close to them is an experience to remember.

A whale dives right next to the boat. Photo by Pamela Hunt
A whale dives right next to the boat. Photo by Pamela Hunt

Joe and I came to Newfoundland to see these creatures gorge in icy waters, fattening themselves before their journey south when the summer ends. In their winter home in the Caribbean, the whales change their focus from hunting and eating to mating, calving, and caring for their young. With the arrival of spring, they migrate back to their feeding grounds and begin the cycle again.

The whales approached closer. Their gray-green flukes were just an arm’s reach from the edge of the craft. As they exhaled with a loud whoosh, a fishy mist from their blowholes fell over us. The lead animal rolled just enough for her pectoral fin to break the surface and her right eye to take us in. She watched us tourists silently for several seconds before her head sank below the surface and her flukes rose out of the water —a sign that the whales were diving deeper. The tips of the creatures’ tails slipped below the surface, leaving two near-perfect circles of flat water.

“That’s their footprint,” Bob said quietly. “That’s how you know they were here.”

We sat for a few minutes, but the pair didn’t resurface. Joe and I did walk the Skerwink Trail that afternoon, where we were able to watch Captain Bob’s afternoon tour from the cliff edge and shared in the joy of those passengers as a young whale breached directly in front of the boat. Though we also saw the puffins in Elliston, we ran out of time to make it to Bonavista in daylight. However, a digital photo of a lighthouse was no match for the hint of fishiness I smelled when I unpacked my raincoat after we returned home. For just a moment, I was returned to the Zodiac, sharing a connection with a humpback.

Shoreline in Trinity, Newfoundland. Photo by Barrett & MacKay Photo
Shoreline in Trinity, Newfoundland. Photo by Barrett & MacKay Photo

If You Travel to Newfoundland

Newfoundland and Labrador Official Tourism Website:

Trinity Eco-Tours:

Author Bio: Pamela Hunt is a freelance writer and editor, curious traveler, and amateur foodie living Burlington, Vermont.