Saturday, April 7, 2012

First whale watching trip for the 2012 season!

On Friday, April 6th we had our first whale watch trip of the 2012 season. NECWA interns work aboard Captain John Whale Watching and Fishing Tours throughout the season. Captain John provides guest tickets to our interns allowing them to head offshore as research assistants. This is an incredible opportunity for these young adults as they start their careers in the field of marine biology.

Tammy and Georgia

Tammy Silva, one of our NECWA staff members, started with NECWA as in intern a few years ago. Now Tammy is a naturalist for Captain John and helps to train our new interns when offshore. Tammy joined us offshore as a guest as well and helped with our newest intern, Georgia, a high school student from Rockland High.


When offshore, interns learn how to collect sighting data and photographs on all the marine animals that we observe. And they assist with educational outreach activities including manning our display table with neat whale artifacts like baleen, prey items and free educational materials.


Georgia had never been on a whale watch and thoroughly enjoyed it. We in New England are spoiled for we are very accustomed to sightings of rare and endangered baleen whales right off our shores. We forget that most of the large baleen whales were hunted to to brink of extinction and are now very endangered. So to see just one finback whale is an amazing site. To see 15 charging all around the boat as they feed deep, is truly impressive.

Most of our time offshore was spent right off the beaches of Race Point. Here we had at least 10 to 15 finback whales and hundreds of Atlantic white-sided dolphins. We also saw hundreds of adult Northern gannets, the largest seabirds that commonly feed in our waters this time of the year. Northern gannets make incredible aerial displays as they plunge-dive into the water. The gannets, dolphins and finbacks were probably going after the same bait fish which was probably herring or sandlance.

On our ride home, we found a single North Atlantic right whale subsurface feeding just a few miles off the Gurnet. Since this species is critically endangered, we had to slowly move out of the area. But even at a distance, our passengers enjoyed a sighting of a lifetime given the fact that there are less than 450 right whales remaining in our waters.

We had an amazing trip in so many ways. So we hope you can join Captain John Boats and support them as a thank you for their support to NECWA.