Although whales are periodically spotted off the Maryland coast, no whale watching cruises are offered in the state. It is of course possible to see a whale while on a boat off the coast of Maryland, and we suppose you could even rent a boat to this end, but there are no tour companies that offer whale watching cruises in particular. However, many people are probably looking for whale watching opportunities in Maryland – it borders the Atlantic Ocean, obviously, and there are lots of whale watching cruises north of the state – so we have compiled the following guide to whale watching in Maryland, noting what is, and is not, possible.
We will say up front that the whale watching opportunities in Maryland are very limited. Indeed, we are writing about whale watching in Maryland largely so that people know that there isn’t much out there for them. There certainly aren’t, as mentioned above, companies that offer cruises that focus only on whale watching, and in fact it is fairly difficult to even see a whale in Maryland. Even though Maryland is on the coastline, not much of the state actually borders the open ocean, so you have to be in a place like Ocean City to be a position to see a whale. And even if you are in a place like Ocean City, it is extremely unlikely that you will simply spot a whale while you, say, stroll along the coastline. Rather, you’d have to be out on a boat – not necessarily far from the coast, as whales do come fairly close to the shore to feed on fish in the area, but on a boat just the same.
Although seeing a whale near the Maryland coastline is fairly rare, you can increase your odds of seeing one if you are looking for whales at the right time. Humpback whales stay in colder northern waters for the summer season – that’s why there are lots of whale watching cruises in northern states – and then head south to give birth when it gets colder. So, during certain migration periods during the year, humpback whales will be passing by Maryland coasts. (We use humpback whales as an example because they are probably the most commonly seen whale off the coast of Maryland. However, other species of whales, like the endangered right whale, also migrate along the East Coast.) There is a whale watching company in Virginia Beach that operates on a seasonal basis to catch sight of migrating whales, and Virginia Beach is only about 200 miles south of Ocean City. So, there probably could be a whale watching outfit in Maryland that operates like the one in Virginia Beach, but there simply isn’t one. Still, the mere fact that this is possible indicates that there are whales to be seen off the coast of Maryland, even if at the moment there is no boating company that takes people to see them.
To sum everything up, you can see whales in Maryland, especially during certain parts of the year, but you’d have to be out on a boat, as seeing one from shore is very unlikely. Thus, whale watching is technically possible in Maryland, but only minimally so, at least until someone decides to start a whale watching company.