July 28

How Do Whales Sleep? Watch This Drone Video To See!

by Ryan Collins

There's been a lot of talk recently in the news about the breaching juvenile humpback whale that landed on a boat off Plymouth, Massachusetts this past weekend on Sunday July 24th. The incident caught my attention, but I wasn't all that surprised it happened, because humpback whales have been breaching while feeding on menhaden off Plymouth for over one month now. 

At times the whales have come very close to the beach and into remarkably shallow water while feeding on epic schools of menhaden. When they are actively hunting the humpback whales have exhibited dramatic breaching behavior.

However, have you stopped to think what the whales are doing when they are not breaching and actively hunting?

This past Tuesday afternoon, while cautiously navigating the waters off Plymouth with my dad, we caught sight of a juvenile humpback which appeared to be resting just beneath the surface of Cape Cod Bay. Actually, I heard the whale before I saw it. We were drifting with our engine off and I could hear the distinct sound of air being expelled through the whale's blowhole.

Conditions were flat calm with no wind and sunny skies. My dad thought it would be a good idea for me to put my drone into the air, and boy am I glad I did! Based on its size the humpback whale appeared to be a juvenile. As you can see in the video, the humpback would occasionally dip its head down low before once again lifting its head, expelling air, and taking another breath. We observed the whale in this manner for about 20 minutes and during that time it barely moved.

I could not help but think how easily a resting whale such as this one could be struck by a speeding pleasure boat or large ship. Yesterday there were quite a few boats zipping around, plus several tugs and barges. Being stuck by a vessel is a serious threat for resting whales, so I feel we all ought to keep our eyes wide open and proceed with caution when boating in western Cape Cod Bay.

I hope you enjoyed this footage! I know I had a wonderful time creating this video. Obviously I have to give all the credit to the juvenile humpback. I wish this whale well and I hope it's out there right now enjoying the summer sunshine and feasting on menhaden. Be cautious on the water this week and I will check back in with you again soon.

Tight lines! 🎣


Members of My Fishing Cape Cod

can click below to watch an additional 13 minutes of footage.

About the author 

Ryan Collins

I'm fortunate to have grown up on the beach, and I've been fishing since kindergarten. I have great family, friends and fishing experiences to be thankful for. Just being out there is enough-catching fish is just a bonus!

  • Ryan beautiful footage … thanks for posting … looks a lot like the one I spotted in Buzzards Bay a few years ago and posted videos on the site … apparently that one chased pogies through the canal … makes me think if the pogies move back through we will need to be careful in BB also. I learned at that time that these whales are alone for the first ten years or so of their lives … they hunt and feed on their own and are vulnerable to predators … and the only way scientists can tell if they are male or female is to take a needle biopsy by a quick injection and look at the chromosomes … currently they are studying the eDNA or environmental DNA that is emitted up through the blow hole and using this to DNA fingerprint each juvenile so they can identify and follow them once they grow and mate.

  • Ryan,
    Great footage of that juvenile humpback. Happy for you and your Dad having shared the experience, and you having such a wonderful opportunity for living the dream. Tight lines and endless gratitude.

    • I’m really happy you enjoyed the video Frank, and thanks for the kind comment! We are certainly very fortunate to live in an area where encounters with wildlife are so common. Whether it’s a whale, or a deer in my backyard, I just never know what I might see next. Thanks again and I hope you have a great weekend! 🎣

  • Ryan,
    That was an awesome clip!
    I found myself relaxing right along with the whale. Didn’t hold my breath quite as long tho.
    🤣🤣🤣. Great job with the videography buddy.

    • I am happy you found the clip to be relaxing Doug. That is great news. And yes I believe humpback whales are capable of holding their breath for around an hour! LOL

  • It looks like the blow from the left side has a distinct red hues to it. Could this whale be injured from that boat collision? Has Coastal studies been able to identify this individual? Great footage!

    • Good catch James! I just watched the video again, and at the 2:41 mark in the video you can see a redness in the air/water coming from the blowhole. I’m not sure if that’s blood or just the way the light is refracting off the water?

    • It was another nice father-son memory. We are fortunate to have enjoyed quite a few moments like this over the years and I’m looking forward to whatever’s next. Thanks for watching and commenting. 🙌🏻

  • {"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

    You may also like