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An incredible first time whale watch in the Azores

An incredible first time whale watch in the Azores © Gretchen Gretchen D's story Off...
Gray whales from drone.

We’re taking steps to uncover the mysteries of whales

Vicki James Vicki is WDC's protected areas coordinator, she helps to create safe ocean spaces...
WDC Breach and Provincetown

A first time whale watch that led to many more

A first time whale watch that led to many more © Susan, a very foggy...
Auke Bay

A chilly first time whale watch experience in Alaska

A chilly first time whale watch experience in Alaska Erika Mabry's story Journey to...

A first time whale watch that led to many more

© Susan, a very foggy whale watch in 1979
© Susan, a very foggy whale watch in 1979

Susan Montgrain's story

A life-changing postcard

I grew up in Rhode Island, not too far from Cape Cod Massachusetts. I didn’t really know anything about whales until one day, when I was about 15, I went to visit a friend and, on her mirror, she had hung a beautiful postcard of a humpback whale fluke. When I saw this, it truly stopped me, and I could not believe the beauty of something so big. I asked her about it, and she said it was from her father who lived in Hawaii. She started to tell me all about humpback whales and it was at that moment that I knew I needed to get out onto a whale watch boat somewhere to see these beautiful creatures.I talked to my mom and dad and they found out that we could go to Provincetown and go on a whale watch, so we did. I was hooked. We did this a few more times over the next couple of years until I was old enough to drive myself. I started working part time and convinced my new boyfriend to come with me. I really enjoyed the company that I was going out with, so I started to go every weekend all summer long.

An exciting opportunity

One day when I was on the boat, a gentleman approached me and asked me if I was interested in going with them on an all-day trip to Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary to help identify the humpback whales that were feeding there. I was so excited and, yes, me and my boyfriend went, I cannot even explain the amount of emotion I felt when we got into an area where there were so many whales feeding. I was crying and laughing with excitement for this opportunity. When I left this experience, I truly wanted to do this for the rest of my life. I started to go to school to try to get closer, but unfortunately life has a way of changing our plans.

A Sickle sighting

There was a time that I went up to go onto the boat that I usually went on, but I was not able to, so I opted to go with a different company. Though they were just as nice, I found they were not as informative as the company that I usually went out with. I can remember at some point we were stopped just watching a particular whale and I could hear them saying over the speakers that they were trying to figure out who this whale was. Well, because I had experience studying their tails myself, I said to someone else near me that it was Sickle. One of staff members on the bridge overheard me and said over the speaker, “who are you up in the front of the boat? Would you like to come up and help us identify some of these whales?” I was very excited at the offer, but also felt I did not belong up there as they definitely knew what they were doing, and I felt that I did not. Though I never had the chance to finish going to school to be able to work with these wonderful people on these boats, my love for cetaceans has grown and I still love these beautiful creatures. I still think that someday I may get myself on a whale watch boat to volunteer.

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