Please Note …
Welcome to Sea Watch Tours
Sea Watch Tours is the longest running eco-tour in the Province of New Brunswick, since 1969.
Whales are guaranteed or the tour is free.
Located on Grand Manan Island, in the Bay of Fundy, which has the highest tides in the world. The Bay of Fundy was a finalist in the “New Seven Wonders of the Natural World” and increased ferry service to Grand Manan, makes it more accessible.
Grand Manan Island ranked third in the world for small islands to visit, by Readers Digest.
Captain & Crew of the “Day’s Catch”
Captain Peter Wilcox, along with his wife, Kenda, own and operate “Sea Watch Tours”, He is a native Grand Mananer whose ancestors arrived from New England during the American Revolution. He’s a proud islander who has served in local politics for the past eight years.
After traveling to the mainland where he secured two college degrees, he returned to his island to pursue his love of the sea. Aside from lobster fishing for over 30 years, he has invested 40 years with the tourism industry on Grand Manan. His knowledge of the sea and the island lifestyle helps to make your excursion with Sea Watch Tours a memorable one. He encourages guests to visit the wheelhouse where he’ll explain the various electronic instruments he uses to navigate the waters. He shares his time at the wheel with his Mate, Durlan Ingersoll a personable and witty guide.
The following clip shows the crew of the “Day’s Catch” at their other job, lobsterfishing. This was filmed with Canadian comedian Rick Mercer.
Mate Durlan Ingersoll has over two decades of experience working on the sea. He has been with Sea Watch Tours since 1995. During this time, he has acquired a vast knowledge of the marine life and seabirds surrounding Grand Manan. Durlan has become an accomplished birder with numerous and rare sightings to his credit. Aboard the boat you will find him serving a steaming hot drink, answering questions, entertaining with his humour, or steering the boat. It will be very evident that he enjoys his work. But, when the ‘Day’s Catch’ is tied up for the day, Durlan will be found at the family owned “Brookside Golf Course” located in Seal Cove.
Captain Peter and Mate Durlan have First Aid and CPR training as well as other navigational requirements for carrying passengers. The captain and mate are always busy aboard the “Day’s Catch” looking after the needs of the passengers. After all, YOU are what matters the most!
The vessel used by “Sea Watch Tours” is the M.V. “Day’s Catch”. It is inspected annually by the Canadian Coast Guard and meets or surpasses their requirements. Guest seating is in the aft section of the vessel with partial protection of a canopy. The heated cabin area includes the washroom, wheelhouse and all the electronic equipment. Feel free to visit these areas of the “Day’s Catch”.
Our customers are very important to us. Whether they come from Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia the United States or from our own backyard in our native New Brunswick, we value each one. It is essential when you step aboard the “Day’s Catch”, that the few hours that you spend with us are enjoyable, educational and entertaining. We are confident that we can meet all those requirements.
“Beautiful trip with outstanding boat and crew” – Albany, NY
“Worth coming 3000 miles for” – Victoria, BC
”It was just as wonderful and informative as it was 15 years ago” – West Hill, ON
”Had the best of whale watching and coming back for more” – Dieppe, NB
“This was my fourth whale watching trip in my life and it was unquestionably the best” – Toronto, ON
“A very enjoyable and instructive trip – not to be missed, I shall tell the folks back home” – U.K.
“A fantastic day with super guides” – Montreal, Que
“Our third trip out with you, as great as always” – Rexford, NJ
“This was our 1st. whale watching trip. What an experience! We plan to tell all our friends. It was worth coming all this distance” – Tampa, FL
“My 9th. Time with “Sea Watch”! Always different, always incredible!” – Cornwall, ON
“Wonderful again! We certainly enjoyed the entire experience” – Bryce Canyon, UT
“The perfect end for a wonderful holiday” – Amsterdam, Holland
Grand Manan Island is located at the mouth of the Bay of Fundy, an area rich in sea life. the island is part of the province of New Brunswick, Canada, but has an identity very much its own. The ferry leaves from Black’s Harbour which is approximately one hour’s drive from Saint John to the east; or the US/Canada border to the west. The ferry crossing takes approximately 1 1/2 hours and docks at North Head, Grand Manan.
Upon arriving in Seal Cove, turn down the SC Breakwater Road (opposite the two churches) and follow this road to the wharf directly at the bottom of the hill. There is ample parking available, and your vessel, “Day’s Catch”, is a short walk away.
“All aboard!” for an unforgettable day of whales and sea birds.
Grand Manan Island
Grand Manan has become one of the key destination points in the Maritimes. It is known for its unique way of life – a quality of life that most of this world would love to obtain. Visitors enjoy the generosity and friendliness of its people, unspoiled by the rush of commercialism.
There are many things to see and do on our island such as: hiking a trail, cycling, walking a beach, kayaking or taking an excursion to view the wonders of the deep, and the other aspects of life on the ocean. Our newly renovated museum offers an impressive look into our past and present.
Grand Manan is an unspoiled canvas to the painter, the peaceful enjoyment of nature for the hiker, a mecca for bird watchers, a haven of relaxation from the hustle and bustle of life, and a bounty of nature’s best for the naturalist. If this appeals to you, you can find out more about our island by visiting our Grand Manan Tourism site.
Arriving here by Ferry. The trip takes 1.5 hours from Black’s Harbour, NB. For rates and schedules, please visit the Coastal Transport site.
Below are some topics of general information which may help in answering some of your questions. Please feel free to contact us for any further information. We’ll be happy to help you.
- Atlantic Daylight Time – If arriving from the United States or the province of Quebec remember to set your watches ahead one hour. We are on Atlantic Daylight Time
- Clothing – Wear layers, even though it is summer and very warm on the land, it can be quite chilly on the ocean. The Bay of Fundy waters remain cool, at approximately 50°F/10°C. Any breeze at all on these cool waters can make you forget that it’s summer. We also have blankets available if your sweatshirt, sweater and jacket just aren’t enough.
- Weather – Fog, rough seas and wind are the three things we can do without. The trip to Machias Seal Island can be made in the fog, but not in conjunction with any of the other elements mentioned above. Whale watching tours must take all three elements into consideration. If the weather is questionable, we do our best to keep you informed about the status of your tour.
- Safety – Life jackets are a mandatory item aboard the vessel. While you are not required by law to wear it during the trip, you may if you wish. The life jackets that we are required by law to carry for children are very awkward and cumbersome. We encourage parents of small children, who want them to wear one, to bring their own if they have one.
- Motion Sickness – Some individuals are more susceptible to this than others. Some things to help make your trip more pleasant, if you are prone to motion sickness or unsure of being on the water, are: eat a light breakfast or lunch before sailing; avoid dairy products and fruit juice. Some individuals are comfortable taking medication for motion sickness, and this should be taken per instructions on the package.
- Day’s Catch – The “Day’s Catch” is inspected annually by the Canadian Coast Guard and is licensed to carry 48 passengers and two crew. There is a head (restroom) on board.
- Wheelchairs – In some circumstances, we can accommodate someone in a wheelchair if you notify us in advance of your tour. The extreme rise and fall of the tides and public wharf access must be taken into account when accommodating a wheelchair, but rest assured that we will do our best.
- Sunscreen – Wear sunscreen with a minimum of 15 SPF. Reflection of the sun off the water increases the likelihood of sunburn.
- Food and Beverages – Feel free to bring your own food or lunch. Hot drinks are available on board and the first cup is free. You may bring soft drinks and juices, but no alcoholic beverages are permitted.
- Binoculars – Bring them along if you like, although they are not usually necessary
- Pets – Are not permitted on board.
Puffins & Machias Seal Island
Machias Seal Island is located in the lower Bay of Fundy, approximately ten miles west of Grand Manan Island. The island is barely a mile long at low tide, and a few hundred feet wide. A lighthouse is located there and in the non-nesting season the only occupants on the island are the two lighthouse keepers. The lighthouse has been maintained by the Canadian Coast Guard for over 100 years.
It has been described as a very unique place to visit, and to the avid bird watcher, it is heaven. During the nesting season it becomes home to thousands of pelagic birds.
The most noted species is the Atlantic Puffin, but other species such as the Razorbill Auk , and Common and Arctic Terns add to the viewing enjoyment.
No matter where you stand on the island, you will see thousands of birds flying by. There are approximately to 5000 pairs of puffins, 1000 pairs of razorbill auks, and 500 pairs of common murres. Common and artic terns may be seen as well, they used to nest here, but in recent years they have not. Nobody understands why. Other birds which may be seen on the trip out to the island are Shearwaters (greater, sooty, manx), Wilson Storm Petrels, Phalaropes, Jeagers (pomarine, parasitic) Northern Gannet, Black Guillemots and Eider Ducks.
Access to the island is very limited. Sea Watch Tours is permitted to land 15 people a day, six days a week.
Sea Watch Tours is the only company in Canada with access to Machias Seal Island. Those who land on the island are taken by the first mate ( Durlan ), to an orientation area, where he will explain to you the rules and regulations of the sanctuary. He will be your guide while you visit the island. He will escort you to enclosed blinds where you can view the birds close up, the puffins will come within 3 -6 feet from your blind, lots of chances for great photographs.
The puffins can also be viewed from our skiff. This is a 16′ outboard motor boat which is used to shuttle people shore. We’ll take you around Machias Seal Island and call the puffins for you. After many years of dedicated observation, Captain Wilcox has learned to call puffins.
Don’t be surprised if one wants to join you in the skiff! Seals, being curious in nature, will make their presence known as well. After leaving the island, we’ll visit a nearby seal colony for more great pictures!
NOTE: LANDING IS AT YOUR OWN RISK. Landing on Machias Seal Island requires physical agility. You must transfer from our 45’ vessel into our 16’ skiff and upon landing at Machias, you may have to walk across very slippery, seaweed covered, rocks to the footpath leading to the orientation area. Landing on Machias Seal Island requires favourable sea conditions.
Whale and Sea Bird Tours
What could be more enjoyable than the smell of salt air, sunshine and losing track of the number of whales you’ve seen. New Brunswick
has “more whales, more often” and we don’t want you to be disappointed! We specialize in a relaxed atmosphere aboard our vessel, with lots of one-to-one contact between our customers, Captain Wilcox and Mate Durlan. We’ll provide you with interesting information and courteous service and be prepared to answer all your questions.
As we leave the dock and head for the prime whale watching grounds, we’ll travel out among the inner islands, beyond White Head Island to open water. This is the area where our trained eyes will begin looking for the familiar flocks of seabirds and blows of humpback and finback whales.
The sea birds, humpback and finback whales share a food source – herring. We’re sure you will be adding to your bird list as we point out shearwaters, petrels, razorbills, guillemots, kittiwakes, phalaropes, jeagers, gannets, murres or puffins! The birds sighted will, of course, depend on that particular species migration habits.
As we continue our charted course we’ll expect to see humpback whales or the endangered North Atlantic right whale. Perhaps you will be the one to spot the first whale! You’ll need lots of time to take in all you’ll see, so we allow plenty of time with the whales.
The variety of sightings will depend on the abundance and location of feed and the ebb and flow of the tides and we’ll be careful to follow the guidelines set out in the “Whale watching code of ethics”.
After 43 years of successful tours, our knowledge of the area and the whales habits leave little doubt that someone will be saying, “‘Thar she blows!” Is it a humpback, finback, minke, northern right, porpoise or dolphin? Perhaps a basking shark or some tuna will also join us. Captain Wilcox and Mate Durlan will take great pleasure in identifying them for you and ensuring that your tour makes memories to last a lifetime. If you would like more information on Bay of Fundy Whales, check out the Fundy Whales site.
Rates and Dates
Tour # 1 – Puffins | Machias Seal Island
These tours begin late June and continue until August 1st.
Departure times for this tour depend on the tide. Approximate departure times may be given several days in advance, but are subject to change due to weather conditions. If we cannot land due to poor sea conditions, the price will be adjusted accordingly. See “Around” rates below.
Cancellations must be received at least 7 days in advance of tour departure. Cancellation for whale watching/ pelagic birding is 24 hours from tour departure.
Tour # 2 – Whale Watching | Pelagic Birding
These tours begin on July 1st and continue until September 30th
Departure time from July 1 until August 1st will be at 8:00am or 1:00pm, depending on the departure time for our puffin tour. Beginning August 2nd, the tour will leave at 11:30am. A second tour, at 4:30pm, may be added as needed. Every effort is made to ensure the promptness of your tour.
Whales GUARANTEED or your Tour is FREE!
All tour prices include tax and are in Canadian funds. Both Canadian and US funds accepted.
Whale Watching Code of Ethics
The purpose of this code is to foster an environment of co-operation and trust among water-based tour operators for the protection and safety of the whales and other marine wildlife, and the safety and understanding of their passengers.We agree to abide by this code for the protection and preservation of whales within our waters.
Definitions – A vessel will be defined as either a motorized vessel or a kayak group. A kayak group is defined as no more than 10 kayaks paddling in a co-ordinated group.
We agree that the first vessel to locate a whale or group of whales will have first viewing priority. The vessel is under no obligation to announce the location of the whales to other operators. We agree that no more than two vessels will view a whale or group of whales at a time within 100m of the whale or group. If the whales are traveling, the viewing vessels will maintain a respectable distance to avoid herding the animals.
We agree that a maximum of 30 minutes will be spent viewing a whale or group of whales if more than two vessels are in the immediate vicinity. Passengers will be informed that we are moving off to allow other vessels to view the whale and that we must avoid crowding the animals and endangering their safety. Motorized vessels will also take care not to crowd or endanger the safety of kayakers.
We agree to move off from any whale that is demonstrating avoidance behaviour such as turning away or increasing speed.
We agree that all operators will stand-by on a designated VHF radio channel for purposes of communication when one vessel is viewing or waiting to view a more than whale or group of whales, and we will co-ordinate the selection of the channel with whale watch vessels from other areas in the Bay of Fundy.
We agree that vessels when approaching another vessel already engaged in whale watching will contact that vessel and arrange viewing priority
We agree to keep a fair distance when waiting our turn to view so as not to crowd the whale or viewing vessels. While waiting our turn to view we will engage in other activities such as sea bird and seal viewing, or conservation education.
We agree that when vessels are stopping to listen for whale blows in the fog that as a courtesy other vessels in the immediate vicinity will do the same.
We agree to cover different areas as much as possible so that not all vessels will be converging on the same location.
We agree that in the vicinity of fixed fishing gear we will practice caution to avoid steering or herding whales in the direction of the gear.
We agree that we will commit to education the public and other boat operators about the conservation of whales and the preservation of the marine ecosystem. We recognize that adherence to this code demonstrates our care and concern for whale conservation.
We agree to re-assess this code of ethics annually and update as needed.
— Dated March 17, 1997