GLOUCESTER , MASS. (WHDH) - A group on a whale watching trip off the coast of Gloucester spotted a blue whale as it breached the water Thursday.

Tina McMahon-Foley, the education coordinator for Cape Ann Whale Watch, said the sighting was a rare one.

“The one we saw 20 years ago, you knew it was a blue whale but it was just diving down and we never saw it again. The one that was on July 4 this year, we spent 30 minutes with it and it was on both sides of the boat, we were getting these phenomenal looks at the animal, so it was just a much better viewing of the animal,” she said.

The crew said they heard rumors from another whale watching company that a blue whale was close, but did not have high expectations to see it themselves.

“They don’t usually come here. In the summertime, blue whales go up to the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Iceland, Greenland, so I don’t ever expect to see a blue whale,” McMahon-Foley said.

She said this summer has been unusual because of the very high concentration of krill — the blue whale’s only source of nourishment — in New England waters.

Those working on the boat also said the whale was at least 100 feet long, an impressive sight for both first-timers and seasoned whale watchers.

“We see finback whales that are the second-largest and they’re 70 feet long, and I saw one after I saw the blue whale and I’m like, ‘Oh my gosh, you’re so small,'” McMahon-Foley said. “For someone who works in the field, day in and day out, there is a deeper appreciation.”

The New England Aquarium confirmed the creature was indeed a blue whale. Cape Ann Whale Watch said the same whale was spotted again Monday.

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