November 18, 2017
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COA Brings Back the Old School Whale Watch

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BAR HARBOR, ME—College of the Atlantic has partnered with Bar Harbor Whale Watch Company to bring back whale watch excursions circa 1970: smaller boat, smaller group, and naturalists and researchers who can engage with everyone, making a more intimate learning experience.

Because of the growing interest in whale watching and marine conservation, COA wanted to offer a service that will add even more variety for visitors, but with an enticing appeal. Looking to its own mission for inspiration, the aim of these tours is similar to what COA practices on campus where classes are centered on discussion, debate, and intensive one-on-one interaction among students and faculty.

The tours are five to six hours aboard COA’s newest research vessel, Osprey, and naturalists and student researchers from the college lead intimate expeditions in search of marine life while discussing ecology, whale research, and why and how to photo identify whales. All tours are fair-weather trips and are leisurely, allowing up to 20 passengers the chance to experience the ocean in a much more personalized setting.

“For some people seeing whales is a very meaningful experience and they want more time to observe them,” said Osprey Captain and COA alumnus Toby Stephenson. “We are offering that, and a chance to have much longer discussions about their habitat, biology, anatomy and how it’s all reflected by the college’s focus on Human Ecology.”

A recent study by the Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC) concluded that responsible whale watching could save the planet. While previous studies have focused on the economic benefits of commercial whale watching, the WDC’s study is the first to document the conservation benefits that may result from responsible whale watching experiences: they can impact a person’s awareness in the long-term with the potential to benefit the planet through increasing one’s awareness of marine conservation. Read more about this study online at

These collaborative tours run twice a week through October 2013. Tickets can be purchased for $129 per person at the Bar Harbor Whale Watch Company at 1 West St. Bar Harbor, ME, or by calling 207-288-2386.

About College of the Atlantic
College of the Atlantic was founded in 1969 on the premise that education should go beyond understanding the world as it is, to enabling students to actively shape its future. A leader in experiential education and environmental stewardship, COA has pioneered a distinctive interdisciplinary approach to learning—human ecology—that develops the kinds of creative thinkers and doers needed by all sectors of society in addressing the compelling and growing needs of our world. For more, visit