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They come thousands of miles for our Newfoundland seafood menu. Our Whale Study Week lets you hang out with humpbacks and come to know these curious and acrobatic ocean giants as they travel and sometimes play in their northern feeding grounds. Your evenings will include the flavours and highlights of old St. John’s, the New World’s first city. This vacation is a great opportunity to participate in actual whale research or whale lovers can simply enjoy being in the company of these majestic animals as they join puffins, shearwaters, seals, and other marine wildlife for the famous Newfoundland subarctic feeding frenzy. For groups with a special interest in marine mammal biology, we often provide special evening presentations on whale behaviour, marine mammal entrapment research, whale biology, dolphin intelligence, whale distribution, and general marine ecology. Wildland Tours president Dave Snow has taught marine mammal biology in Canada and the United States and has been involved with field studies and projects with some of the world’s best known whale researchers. You do not need to be an expert to enjoy this holiday; the program is suitable for any nature enthusiast who wants to enjoy the company of whales - from both land and sea. And although we do try to collect useful scientific information, the holiday is simply a wonderful experience for anybody interested in fun, photography, and a unique adventure. (Our facebook site often features photos from this holiday - and our other adventures!)
We welcome you at St. John’s International Airport and introduce you to your harborside hotel and the new world’s first city during a short orientation tour. Later, please join us for an informal evening introduction to Newfoundland, whale biology, and the local ecology. Our hotel is well situated for restaurants, trails, pubs, and other downtown highlights. Enjoy!
The second day of our Whale Study vacation features an introduction to the ocean and the local whales during a 2.5 hour voyage on the local tour boat, Atlantic Whaler. We also view tens of thousands of colorful puffins and hundreds of thousands of other seabirds. We review the marine ecology of the North Atlantic (get our sea legs) and prepare for our onboard assistance to local whale census research. We also travel to the eastern edge of the continent to do more whale watching.
You will never forget our dramatic Newfoundland coastline. We spend six hours on board our coast guard certified vessel looking at whales in the company of hundreds of thousands of seabirds. Humpbacks and minkes are the most common whale species but dolphins and fin whales are also frequent highlights. In fact, 20 varieties of whales are reported from Newfoundland waters so you can expect an occasional surprise. We will focus on humpback tail fluke photography, individual whale recognition, behavioral observations, feeding ecology and just enjoying the sights. This is the time when playful calves have been known to “steal the show” and distract us from our more scientific pursuits. We have also been involved with hydrophone development research and may try to listen in on any visiting dolphins plus any humpback sounds.
Today we go whale watching from the land as we try to take in some of the range of the world’s largest population of humpbacks. A caribou herd, moose habitat, a humpback-feeding beach and seals usually add to the day’s sightings. Scenic photographers will enjoy the coastline and the lighthouses should they want to see more than just the whales. Bird lovers will enjoy the small seabird colonies near our whale study lookouts. This day is sometimes the holiday highlight as we enjoy up-close encounters with the humpbacks as they cruise their feeding beach and/or overhead views of whales pursuing balls of caplin. Hill tops are often better than boats for giving insights into what the whales are doing underwater!
Humpback tails are as distinctive as human faces or fingerprints; and we use this six hours on the water attempting to get scientifically useful tail shots that allow us to identify individual whales and mother/calf pairs. This provides insight into their range and life history. You’ll learn how we can all contribute to the worldwide study of both humpbacks and orcas. (We occasionally see orcas on our whale research and more general exploratory tours. We can never promise them but their numbers appear to be increasing along Newfoundland and Labrador’s coast. Our tour leaders have been leading contributors to their study. Our organization also sponsors orca research excursions including our Southern Labrador Adventure.) If the science doesn’t excite you just sit back and enjoy the gentle antics of the whales and the other wildlife of the North Atlantic.
Today we further study the richness of the Atlantic as we journey to the continent’s third largest and most spectacular gannet colony. Tens of thousands of other seabirds with their chicks add to the day as does some of the world’s best land-based whale watching. We visit one of the planet’s most impressive marine spectacles without using a boat. A farewell barbecue or a group supper is planned for our program’s last evening.
Often guests leave on this Saturday while others take the time to explore St. John’s on their own; or to go out for one last quick visit with the whales before an afternoon flight. Some of our repeat guests join us for a second Whale Study Week (yes, it really is that much fun!) or decide to try another Wildland Tours adventure.
Included All ground transportation (including airport transfers), accommodation for six nights at the lovely Quality Hotel in downtown St. John’s, all admissions, all boat time, all breakfasts and lunches, two group dinners (usually on the second day and last day of the holiday) and the services of an experienced naturalist guide or whale researcher.
Not Included Transportation to and/or from Newfoundland
Other We make every effort to ensure we get to enjoy calm seas so the order of events on this holiday may be rearranged to suit your comfort and the local weather. In the unlikely event a dramatic change in whale distribution takes place we will travel to where the whales are. To date all guests on this holiday have stayed in historic St. John’s and they have sometimes watched whales through the hotel window while enjoying breakfast. Our Whale Study Week holidays can be purchased directly through our St. John’s office or through travel companies in Canada, the US, the UK, the Netherlands, and several other countries. Let us know your preference. Remember to book your airfare early to ensure a reasonably priced seat at a convenient time. Newfoundland is a large, exotic island at the extreme edge of the continent. Air access can often be a challenge.
Terms and Conditions*15 per cent Canada/Newfoundland Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) is not included. Non Canadians receive a FCTIP tax credit on their invoice from us and thus actually pay only 7.5% HST.