OCEAN CITY – Beach-goers were taken by surprise last weekend as a whale came to visit the shoreline giving everyone a show.
On Sunday, Joe Cuomo visited the beach on 76th street where his son, David, was on duty lifeguarding that day. It was a normal day on the beach when Cuomo noticed surrounding beach patrons pointing out into the water.
“We got the binoculars out and we started looking around and we realized there was a whale out there,” Cuomo said on Tuesday.
By looking through his binoculars, he also recognized there were schools of fish amongst the whale and quickly realized the whale was feeding.
“Every so often you would see the thing come up like you would see on TV with the spout coming up…it would come up and jump out of the water,” he said.
Cuomo said he and his family have been vacationing in Ocean City their entire lives, but they have never experienced a whale sighting.
“We had never seen a whale out here before so it’s pretty unusual for us,” he said.
According to Cuomo, the Ocean City Beach Patrol felt there was no danger for beach patrons that day and continued to allow people in the water.
“It was like a show,” he said. “It was really exciting and people were just amazed.”
Cuomo said the whale fascinated beach-goers for about 30 minutes as it gradually drifted north. He did notice the Sea Rocket caught a glimpse of the whale as well and followed it for some time.
“Those folks got a heck of a ride because he [the captain] kind of followed it along for a while to the point where he was so far off you could just about see it,” he said.
The Dispatch caught up with Captain Graham Bostic of the Sea Rocket on Wednesday morning. Bostic said he was able to get up close and personal with the whale on Sunday.
“I saw a splash and I went up to see if it was dolphins and it usually is,” he explained. “As we were kind of easing up to where the dolphins were so we could see them, a whale popped out right in front of the boat.”
The Sea Rocket passengers had front row seats to the show as they jumped up and went to the front of the boat to watch.
“We hung out with him for about a half hour,” Bostic said. “He was jumping around and coming out.”
Bostic also noticed the schools of fish the whale was hanging out with. He said the whale would come about a third out of the water with his mouth wide open filling it as the fish were spilling out the sides.
“It was the coolest thing,” he said. “He did that three or four times near us.”
Bostic joined the Sea Rocket team in 2001 and estimated he has only seen about seven whales in that time. If he had to guess, he said it was either a Right whale or a Humpback, but he was going with Right since they are most common species to visit the Ocean City shore.
“We usually see a whale a couple times every other year or so … it is not common,” he said.
Bostic added that the unique thing about a whale sighting is dolphins usually give their location away as they become animated by the visit of the large creature.
“The dolphins get all excited and get near them and they just go crazy … so usually that’s the way we find them going where the dolphins are,” he said.