How will I know I will see whales on a whale watch?

That is honestly a great question, but unfortunately there is no direct answer. Whale watches are intended for humans to see whales, but the whales do not know that! Therefore, whales simply go about their everyday lives and we are fortunate when we do see them. It is completely unpredictable to know what will be … Continue reading How will I know I will see whales on a whale watch?

Meet our NEW Alaska Region Whale SENSE companies for 2021!!

Welcome! We are excited to work with each and every one of you. Booking a tour in Southeast Alaska? Take a moment to learn more about our newly enrolled companies. Note: All vessels pictured below are in compliance with Alaska whale watching regulations and guidelines. Alaska Tales They are a Juneau-based company that offers whale … Continue reading Meet our NEW Alaska Region Whale SENSE companies for 2021!!

Importance of Whale Feces

Whales are absolutely marvelous creatures, but did you know that they create essential impacts on the world around them? One of the big ways they contribute to the health of the oceans includes their behavior, more specifically, the production of their poop! The poop produced by a whale is unlike many others. There is an … Continue reading Importance of Whale Feces

Do Whales Ever Sleep?

Yes and no! It is a bit tricky explaining how they sleep because it does not occur how we traditionally think it does. A big difference between the way we sleep and how they do it, is the fact that we are capable of completely shutting down our brains. Humans are involuntary breathers, meaning we … Continue reading Do Whales Ever Sleep?

How do you identify a North Atlantic Right Whale?

First, where does one go to encounter these whales? North Atlantic right whales are exactly where their name states, the North Atlantic ocean. Being found in the coastal waters of New England, these whales can range from Canada, offshore and when expecting a calf, waters between South Carolina-Florida. Although they wander close to shore (they are nicknamed the “urban whale”), many by passers will go without ever witnessing these magnificent creatures in their lifetimes. This is due in part to the fact that there are less than 400 North Atlantic right whales in existence. 

How Do You Identify Orcas?

In our previous blog we discussed the importance of identifying whales from each other and more specifically how you can do so with humpback whales. In this blog, we will be focusing on another type of whale, orcas! Also known for their notorious name, killer whales. Orcas can be found in all oceans, but they … Continue reading How Do You Identify Orcas?

How do you Identify Humpback Whales?

An essential skill when observing whales is the ability of being able to know not only the type of whale you have encountered, but who exactly. By individualizing every whale that we come across, it allows us to monitor their evolution over time which allows us to understand the quality of life they experience. Many distinct … Continue reading How do you Identify Humpback Whales?

Do whale watching boats bother the whales?

While watching whales from a vessel, you may often wonder if the whales know that you are there. If so, does it bother them?  The short answer: It would be great if we could ask the whales themselves! But, until then, we have to interpret their behavior in the presence of vessels and physiology to … Continue reading Do whale watching boats bother the whales?

2021 Photo Contest Winners

Congratulations to all of the winners in the 4th annual Whale SENSE photo contest! We had a total of 73 amazing photos submitted for voting this year. Like what you see? Be sure your next whale watch is with a Whale SENSE company! Feeding Category – Ashley Longo, American Princess Cruises Tail Shot Category – … Continue reading 2021 Photo Contest Winners

4th Annual Whale SENSE Photo Contest

It’s time for our 4th annual photo contest! What better way to prepare for the upcoming whale watching season than to vote on some of the best photos from previous years! FACEBOOK PHOTO CONTEST RULES How to Enter 1. Submit your photos Submit your photos via email to whalesenseww@gmail.com by SUNDAY February 28. You can … Continue reading 4th Annual Whale SENSE Photo Contest

2020 Naturalist Highlight Stories

We asked Whale SENSE naturalists to share their favorite memory from last season. Here are their stories! Julie Taylor, Lead Naturalist, Bar Harbor Whale Watch Co. July 22, 2020 “It was a beautiful and HOT summer day. The water was like glass. Suddenly, a passenger alerted me that they had seen a whale jump out … Continue reading 2020 Naturalist Highlight Stories

3 Tips For Posting About Whale Watching Experiences

Have you ever gone to a restaurant (or more likely in 2020, placed an online order for food) and been told it will be a 40 minute wait? Frustrating, right? Especially when you’re really hungry! But now think about that AMAZING feeling when it’s only been 25 minutes and your name is called! In this … Continue reading 3 Tips For Posting About Whale Watching Experiences

Ask the Naturalist: What to Bring on a Whale Watch

Early on the morning of a whale watch, the captain and crew are busy checking weather and sea condition reports, making sure they prepare (both themselves and the boat!) accordingly for the upcoming trip. Some of the items on the crew’s packing list should probably be on yours as well! If you’re an avid whale … Continue reading Ask the Naturalist: What to Bring on a Whale Watch

Ask the Naturalist: Why is whale watching important?

There are many reasons why people love whale watching – from the chance to be on or by the sea to the opportunity to be humbled in the presence of a truly massive animal. These experiences are valuable not only in supporting the economy of the communities in which they take place, but, when done … Continue reading Ask the Naturalist: Why is whale watching important?

How are whales protected in the United States?

When you hear that whales are “protected”, what first comes to mind?  Of course, physical walls or barriers would never work for animals that spend their life in the wild and always on the move. Instead, laws to set these determine these boundaries.  What are we protecting whales from?  The word, “protect” is defined as … Continue reading How are whales protected in the United States?

Ask the Naturalist: How long can a whale hold its breath?

As mammals, all whale species have to breathe air. This is good for whale watchers, because otherwise we’d hardly ever get to see these animals who spend the majority of their life underwater! It’s these short moments at the surface of the water that we get to watch them! But, sometimes as quickly as they … Continue reading Ask the Naturalist: How long can a whale hold its breath?

Ask the Naturalist: Why do whales breach?

Seeing the body of a whale launch itself out of the water is one of the most awe-inspiring behaviors you can see on a whale watch! You see it on all the TV shows, you see it on all the brochures that advertise whale watching, but what’s the likelihood that you’ll actually see it on … Continue reading Ask the Naturalist: Why do whales breach?

How do you find whales on a whale watch?

Feature image: Naturalist Jon Brink, searching for whales (Photo: Jenna Schwerzmann) The whole purpose of a whale watch is to see whales, right? But, how do you find them?  The short answer: The best way to find whales is: To look for them!  It might sound obvious, but since whales are highly mobile and can … Continue reading How do you find whales on a whale watch?

How does Whale SENSE protect endangered species?

What does it mean to be endangered? In the 1960s, global whale populations weren’t looking so great. Humpback whales in the Central North Pacific numbered a mere 1,400, gray whales had completely disappeared in the North Atlantic and were on the brink of extinction in the North Pacific, and there were likely less than 100 … Continue reading How does Whale SENSE protect endangered species?

2020 Photo Contest Winners

Congratulations to all of the winners in the 3rd annual Whale SENSE photo contest! We set a new record of 98 amazing photos submitted for voting this year. Like what you see? Be sure your next whale watch is with a Whale SENSE company! Feeding Category – Lauren McCaslin, Kenai Fjord Tours Tail Shot Category … Continue reading 2020 Photo Contest Winners

10 ways you can be an ocean steward from home!

This Earth Week, while physically apart, let’s take actions in our everyday life together that can contribute to benefiting our world’s oceans AROUND THE HOUSE: 1. Replace disposable with reusable Take time to think about the things in your house you use once and throw away.  Is there a way you could replace them with … Continue reading 10 ways you can be an ocean steward from home!

How are porpoises different from dolphins? (The 3 F’s)

Dolphins and porpoises can be easily confused at a glance. They are both small cetaceans and extremely intelligent. Each also have complex brains with a forehead called a melon. Using their melon, they can easily navigate using sonar (sound waves). However, you can use the 3 F’s (Face, Fin, and Figure) to help you visually … Continue reading How are porpoises different from dolphins? (The 3 F’s)

3rd Annual Whale SENSE Photo Contest

Back by popular demand – it is time for our 3rd annual photo contest! What better way to prepare for the upcoming whale watching season than to vote on some of the best photos from previous years! FACEBOOK PHOTO CONTEST RULES How to Enter Submit your photos via email to whalesenseww@gmail.com by FRIDAY February 28. … Continue reading 3rd Annual Whale SENSE Photo Contest

Momma whales, Monica, and mountains – oh my!

When I started as an intern at Whale and Dolphin Conservation, the Whale SENSE program was just being launched. I’m proud to say that Whale SENSE is turning 10 years old this year! I was chatting with our Whale SENSE partners in the NOAA offices both in Massachusetts and Alaska and we were brainstorming the … Continue reading Momma whales, Monica, and mountains – oh my!

A Floating Office With Cetacean Co-Workers

“You must love your job!” is an exclamation many of us in the ecotourism career field hear quite frequently. My response? “WHALE YEAH!” A floating office, cetaceans as co-workers, and the unexpected nature of each trip are things that many of us thrive upon.

Whale SENSE Beach Clean Up 2019!

On Saturday, many of the Whale SENSE companies in both Alaska and the Atlantic completed their annual stewardship project  in a coordinated beach clean up in an effort to care for the local marine life and give back to their local communities! Whale SENSE companies in Juneau, Alaska had 58 people from 7 companies on … Continue reading Whale SENSE Beach Clean Up 2019!

Bridging the gap: Whale SENSE Alaska goes to the far east coast (of the United States)

What could whale watching in the Atlantic have in common with Alaska? Suzie Teerlink and myself had never been whale watching off the east coast, but had heard the stories! Having started our careers working with marine mammals as whale watch naturalists in Alaska, we frequently had passengers on our whale watch eager to share … Continue reading Bridging the gap: Whale SENSE Alaska goes to the far east coast (of the United States)

2018 Whale SENSE Photo Contest

FACEBOOK PHOTO CONTEST RULES How to Enter Submit your photos via message to the Whale SENSE Facebook page or to whalesenseww@gmail.com by FRIDAY NOVEMBER 2nd. You can enter up to one photo per category.  With each photo include your name, the name of the whale watch company with which you were on board, date it … Continue reading 2018 Whale SENSE Photo Contest

The Naturalist

am not here to talk of whales, but of people. I could talk about the passengers, but another time; I would dwell on the crew, each of which has a story: the captains, mates, videographers, and galley people; but I will for now speak of the one I know best- the naturalist.

2018 Whale SENSE Alaska Marine Conservation Leader Award

For the second year, outstanding captains and naturalists in Alaska were nominated for their leadership in marine conservation and stewardship. With both the whale watching industry and scope of Whale SENSE growing rapidly in Alaska, there are truly countless individuals that are working to emphasize the need for conservation and preservation of local whale populations. … Continue reading 2018 Whale SENSE Alaska Marine Conservation Leader Award

Celebrating World Oceans Day and the East Coast Whale Watching Season Kicks Off

Header photo of entangled humpback whale, later freed by trained responders. This photo was taken while abiding by Greater Atlantic Regional Whale Watching Guidelines. Photo: WDC As the world celebrates Ocean’s Day on June 8th , the whale watching season kicks off along the East Coast. Whale sightings are always thrilling to passengers, but those … Continue reading Celebrating World Oceans Day and the East Coast Whale Watching Season Kicks Off

Photo Contest Winners Announced!

Congratulations to all of our winners!! All of the winning photos were taken in Virginia Beach and on board with either Rudee Flipper Dolphin and Whale Watching Tours or Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center. Coincidentally, their whale watching season is starting later this month. We encourage you to reach out to them and book a trip this … Continue reading Photo Contest Winners Announced!

Whale SENSE launches Facebook photo contest

FACEBOOK PHOTO CONTEST RULES How to Enter Submit your photos via message to the Whale SENSE Facebook page or to whalesenseww@gmail.com by FRIDAY NOVEMBER 3rd. You can enter up to one photo per category.  With each photo include your name, the name of your whale watch company, date it was taken and a caption/description. Categories … Continue reading Whale SENSE launches Facebook photo contest

Whale SENSE Heroes

By Mark Haver, NOAA Fisheries Communications Intern You’re the last boat on the water on a summer evening. The setting sun breathes a rich orange reflection over the water’s surface. A killer whale dorsal fin calmly breaks the orange sheet. It is not just the sighting that makes the experience so exciting– it is the … Continue reading Whale SENSE Heroes

Why More of Alaska’s Whale Watching Companies Are Recognized for Responsible Tourism

Jenna Schwerzmann Back in 2015, the Whale SENSE program welcomed six new companies from Juneau, Alaska.  Until that time, all participants were located on the Atlantic coast.  Now, in 2017, the number of Whale SENSE participants in Alaska has doubled! Tourists can now find Whale SENSE-approved companies in Juneau, Ketchikan, Valdez, and Seward. I was … Continue reading Why More of Alaska’s Whale Watching Companies Are Recognized for Responsible Tourism

A Day on Stellwagen Bank: Where Whale Watching Was Born.

Written by Jenna Schwerzmann On a partly-cloudy June morning, nearly three hundred passengers boarded the Hyannis Whale Watcher cruise. Prepped with backpacks, coolers, and extra layers for the chilly Cape Cod winds, the passengers seemed hopeful as they handed their tickets to none other than the naturalist, Jonathan Brink. Jon Brink has been with Hyannis … Continue reading A Day on Stellwagen Bank: Where Whale Watching Was Born.

Whaleboats Buy my Quesadillas

Written by Tamara Lang. All photos courtesy of Major Marine Tours. My dad tells people I work on a whaleboat. I’ve tried correcting him. It’s a whale-watching boat, dad, I try to say, with glaciers as a bonus. Whaleboats operate off of antique whaling ships, and I don’t work on those either. I can promise that … Continue reading Whaleboats Buy my Quesadillas

Whale watching “South of south” with Boston Harbor Cruises

It was a beautiful day out not on Stellwagen Bank but as we called it “south of south”. We headed out towards the south on board the Sanctuary for the 10am whale watch and after spotting a quartet of fin whales on the southwest corner of Stellwagen we headed around the tip of Cape Cod … Continue reading Whale watching “South of south” with Boston Harbor Cruises

Field Notes: Out Of the Fog

From Whale SENSE Atlantic participant Boston Harbor Cruises:  Laura L., Julia, and Chrissy May 1, 2017 trip We headed out into the thick fog surrounding Boston with hopes that sightings luck would continue to be on our side. While exiting the harbor the crew kept a sharp lookout for other boat traffic, but before too … Continue reading Field Notes: Out Of the Fog

The Common “Sense” Way to View Majestic Whales

February 17, 2017 NOAA Fisheries hopes you’ve enjoyed diving into all the whale science and stories we’ve featured this week. From coast to coast, you may be asking how you can get out and see whales for yourself. Going out with whale watching tours that follow responsible guidelines is a great way to see whales … Continue reading The Common “Sense” Way to View Majestic Whales

Whale SENSE Atlantic Has a Banner Year in 2016

Passengers on board a Whale SENSE accredited vessel getting a close look at a humpback whale. In 2016, the responsible whale watching program Whale SENSE Atlantic hit two records: the highest number of participants (16) and the most large whale entanglements documented by participants (13). The most recent entanglement was reported by American Princess Cruises … Continue reading Whale SENSE Atlantic Has a Banner Year in 2016

Field Notes: Longing For Silence

Submitted by Theresa Soley, naturalist for Gastineau Guiding Late this afternoon on the west side of Admiralty Island, after rounding Point Retreat, a large group of boats was hugging the shoreline. A dozen boats were gliding south, following a group of humpback whales. Twelve boats in one small area is heavy boat traffic, which forces … Continue reading Field Notes: Longing For Silence

Field Notes: Cape May Whale Watch & Research Center Wants to Know If YOU have Whale SENSE!

Reposted with permission from Cape May Whale Watch and Research Center. Original blog post can be found here. Do You Have Whale SENSE? June 25, 2016 Written by Cape May Whale Watch & Research Center As the years progress, the use of the oceans for recreational purposes has increased dramatically, leading to a greater number … Continue reading Field Notes: Cape May Whale Watch & Research Center Wants to Know If YOU have Whale SENSE!

Field Notes: Calves Galore in Juneau!

Contributed by Scott Ranger from Gastineau Guiding, Whale SENSE Alaska participating company since 2015 Our Juneau whales this season include at least three cows and calves, all of whom arrived early, either in late April or early May. 1447, Juneauite’s calf stuck close to mom for a month, then has gotten a bit frisky. First by … Continue reading Field Notes: Calves Galore in Juneau!

Whale SENSE Welcomes Virginia Participants!

Two Virginia Whale Watch Companies Join Whale SENSE Atlantic, Leading the Industry in a Responsible Direction Original article can be found here. Two Virginia Beach ocean tour operators, Rudee Tours and Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center, joined the voluntary responsible whale watching program, Whale SENSE, sponsored by NOAA Fisheries and Whale and Dolphin Conservation. … Continue reading Whale SENSE Welcomes Virginia Participants!

Newburyport Whale Watch Joins Whale SENSE Atlantic!

We would like to welcome Newburyport Whale Watch as the newest addition to the Whale SENSE Atlantic program!  On June 1, Newburyport Whale Watch crew were trained by Whale SENSE coordinators. “It makes SENSE!  Whales need a voice, any human being who uses the ocean for research, conservation, or just the pure  pleasure of its beauty … Continue reading Newburyport Whale Watch Joins Whale SENSE Atlantic!

Check Out Our New Look!

With the start of our 7th season and our expansion to new regions, we decided it was time for a new look.  Check out our new logo!  Let us know what you think! Don’t worry, for those of you attached to our bubble whale, it’s not gone for good!  As we develop new materials, our … Continue reading Check Out Our New Look!

Allen Marine– Helping Keep Alaska Shores Clean!

Allen Marine, one of our Juneau Whale SENSE Alaska pioneering participants, recently conducted a beach clean-up on Admiralty Island!  Using two boats, 22 members of their crew helped pick up trash on the beaches of Piling Point, Barlow Point, Green Cove and Oliver Inlet.  Even with bears in the area, the crew managed to gather quite a … Continue reading Allen Marine– Helping Keep Alaska Shores Clean!

Whale SENSE Launched in Alaska!

From:  http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/newsreleases/2015/whalesense042315.htm Voluntary program to promote responsible whale watching in Juneau area  For tourists visiting Juneau and Southeast Alaska, there is no sight more exhilarating than seeing humpback whales bubble feeding or breaching. Whale watching is a significant part of the local economy, and NOAA Fisheries wants to ensure that whale watching remains a viable and … Continue reading Whale SENSE Launched in Alaska!

Cape May Whale Watch and Research Center Recognized in New Article

Just in time for Earth Day, one of our New Jersey participants, Cape May Whale Watch & Research Center, was recently highlighted in an article by the http://www.mycentraljersey.com  This great article highlights their dedication to ocean stewardhsip and marine conservation.  Check it out!

Thank You, National Marine Sanctuary Foundation!

Whale SENSE Awarded Tourism Funding Whale SENSE was recently awarded funding from the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation to help us promote responsible whale watching in the Greater Atlantic Region!  Many thanks to the Foundation for their support!  Visit their website for more information on other great Foundation programs:

Interview with Captain Blair Perkins of Shearwater Excursions

Meet our members!  We’ve been conducting interviews with some of our captains, naturalists, and owners of Whale SENSE companies, and will share them here on our website.  This week we talked to Captain Blair Perkins, the captain and naturalist of Shearwater Excursions, about his experiences whale watching. Growing up in Nantucket, Captain Blair knew from … Continue reading Interview with Captain Blair Perkins of Shearwater Excursions

Whale SENSE Participant to the Rescue!

Whale Watching Trip Turns into Successful International Whale Rescue! Original story can be viewed here. When nearly 200 people set sail on a whale watch from Bar Harbor, Maine, they never expected to be party to a whale rescue. Yet, that is exactly what happened on a sunny afternoon in early June. A vessel owned by Bar Harbor … Continue reading Whale SENSE Participant to the Rescue!

Responsible whale watch program continues to expand along U.S. east coast

Whale SENSE welcomes new company for the 2014 whale watching season! Original press release, courtesy of NOAA Fisheries Greater Atlantic Regional Office, click here. Shearwater Excursions from Nantucket, Massachusetts has joined NOAA, Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC)  and 11 other commercial whale watching companies as a new Whale SENSE member. Through this collaborative educational effort, over 1 … Continue reading Responsible whale watch program continues to expand along U.S. east coast

Responsible whale watch program expands throughout the east coast

Five new members join WhaleSENSE Whale SENSE welcomes new participants Whale watching is an important industry for many coastal communities from Maine through Virginia. Five new whale watching companies have joined a growing list of companies participating in Whale SENSE. This program, which was initiated by NOAA Fisheries’  Northeast Region, Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, … Continue reading Responsible whale watch program expands throughout the east coast

5 Years and 1 Million Passengers– Whale SENSE Milestones

Responsible Whale Watching Program Reaches Milestone For original article, click here. Whale Watching Companies Share Why Whale SENSE Also Makes Good Business Sense As the Whale SENSE Program enters its fifth year, an estimated 1 million people have been exposed to messages about responsible wildlife viewing.  However, this isn’t the only benefit of the program.  … Continue reading 5 Years and 1 Million Passengers– Whale SENSE Milestones

Whale SENSE Featured on Planet Whale

Planet Whale is a website designed to promote responsible whale watching around the world.  Passengers can rank their whale watch experiences based on responsible viewing criteria, and search for responsible whale watches globally.  When viewers of the Planet Whale website search for whale watches in the United States, the Whale SENSE logo reminds them to … Continue reading Whale SENSE Featured on Planet Whale

Whale SENSE- the smart way to whale watch

(Original post 2012:  http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/laws/mmpa/anniversary/whalesense.htm)  Whale SENSE- The smart way to whale watch   Look for the Whale SENSE logo to support program participants.  The Northeastern United States is one of the most impressive whale watching destinations in the world, drawing over a million whale watchers each year. Worldwide, whale watching is valued as a multi-billion … Continue reading Whale SENSE- the smart way to whale watch

Responsible Whale Watching Program Protects Whales, Encourages Stewardship

(Original Post June 16, 2011: http://www.nero.noaa.gov/nero/hotnews/NR1118/) As the third year of the WhaleSENSE program gets underway, three more whale watching companies have signed up to practice and promote responsible whale watching. WhaleSENSE is a joint initiative involving NOAA’s Fisheries Service, NOAA’s Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary and the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society in partnership … Continue reading Responsible Whale Watching Program Protects Whales, Encourages Stewardship