We strive to share our love of marine life with the public in the hope of spreading greater awareness of the Gulf of Maine and inspiring environmental stewardship. We have a variety of programs that fulfill this mission, including distributing information via publications and this web site, presentations and field trips for schools and groups, regular newsletters, whale watches, beach cleanups and a variety of other programs!
Whale Watch Season Runs mid-May through Columbus Day weekend
Al Gauron Deep Sea Fishing & Whale Watching, Hampton, NH: Naturalist-led whale watches on the Starfish, starting July 1, www.algauron.com, (603) 926-2469
Isles of Shoals Steamship Company, Portsmouth, NH: Isles of Shoals tours, school field trips, charters and location of Blue Ocean Society Touch Tank, www.islesofshoals.com, (603) 431-5500. Facebook page
Whale Watch Video
Check out this video (best viewed in HD) of what you might see on a whale watch, and how you will learn about marine life! Thanks to Ryan and Seamus from Small Town Pictures for producing this video!
What Will You See? View our blog for detailed trip reports and photos, and come back to comment about your trip!
Naturalists & Educational Programs
Our staff and associate scientists work aboard boats at each of the companies above. On whale watches, naturalists and interns collect valuable research data, but their main role is education. An experienced naturalist can make the difference between a good and bad trip!
Our staff & associate naturalists all have several years' experience observing local marine life, and are available to communicate what's going on during your trip. We also have many educational displays and visuals for both adults and children, including real whale baleen, children's books, fact sheets and posters!
Printable Field Guide
Prepare for your trip! Download and print out our field guide below. Copies also available aboard the whale watches.
Gulf of Maine Marine Life Field Guide Brochure (PDF file, 1.5MB)
Tips for a Great Whale Watch
Whale watches can be exciting and thrilling. To have a fun, safe whale watch, here are some tips and things to expect for you and your family.
Remember that you're not going to Sea World! While whale watch boats often have an idea of where whales are, we do not have any equipment (other than our eyes and radio communication with other boats) to find whales. Whales are in our area during the summer to feed. They feed on moving things such as fish and plankton, and follow their prey wherever it goes. That means whales can range over a very wide area from day-to-day. So on any given trip, we may see one whale, one hundred whales, or no whales at all.
Along these lines, remember that whales are out there doing what they do best - living their whale lives! Imagine the tables were turned and the whales were watching you for a day. What would they see? For many of us, they'd be watching us sit at a computer all day long! When we encounter whales in their natural environment, occasionally they are very active, displaying all the behaviors you see on TV. Most of the time, they are doing less active things, such as feeding below the surface and only coming up to the surface to breathe. Remember seeing the world's largest creatures - especially since the majority are endangered animals - is amazing in itself.
Also, most whale watches are 4-6 hours. If sightings are good, we spend 1-2 hours with whales. This means there is a lot of cruising time. During cruising time, there is always the chance of seeing whales, but be prepared for downtime if you have young children.
It's cooler on the ocean. While boat companies always appreciate last minute sweatshirt sales, keep in mind that it's 10-15 degrees cooler on the ocean, and since we're in New England, it can rain or get cooler suddenly. If you're not dressed appropriately, it can be a VERY long trip. Also, wear rubber-soled shoes, preferably without heels, because decks can get slippery.
When Taking Pictures... While close encounters with whales can produce amazing pictures, we are required by guidelines to stay at least 100 feet away from most species unless they come to us. If you have a camera with little or no zoom lens, you may be better off just enjoying watching the whales and imprinting them on your memory, rather than seeing them through the viewfinder of a camera. Take few fun shots, then watch the whales closely so you can actually see what they're doing!
Guarantees. While we often see whales (about 98% of the time), many operators offer "guaranteed sightings". Read the fine print closely on these offers - some offer cash back if no whales are sighted, but most just give you a free pass to come back again.