- Research & Education
- Cape Cod
Our naturalists are on each trip to make your voyage a memorable one for years to come. If you’ve been with us on previous excursions then you know that each voyage is unique not only with the marine life you’ll encounter but also with our naturalists.
Each one of our naturalists participate in a yearly training program that explores the ever changing marine habitat we visit daily. During this program presentations are given by scientist, naturalist, government officials and other parties that will help with the growth and understanding of the habitat. As we explore the how’s, what’s and why’s of the environment we visit, we start to understand the affects of each intricate piece of the puzzle that plays a part in this delicate habitat.
We feel that it is an important factor to continue to look at our surroundings, expand our knowledge and pass it on to the passengers that visit us on each trip.
Dr. Carlson has been a naturalist on board the Dolphin Fleet since 1979. She is currently the director of the Dolphin Fleet’s Research and Education Program and a Research Associate at the College of the Atlantic (COA), Bar Harbor, Maine. COA curates the North Atlantic Humpback Whale and Antarctic Humpback Whale catalogues.
Her work and that of Dr. Stormy Mayo on humpback whale photo-identification at the Center for Coastal Studies was the inspiration for the PBS series “The Voyage of the Mimi”. She has spent over twenty-six years studying cetaceans off the east coast of the United States, Puerto Rico, Brazil, Chile, the Dominican Republic and the Eastern Caribbean and is an acknowledged world expert on photo-identification techniques, humpback whales and whale watching.
Dr. Carlson serves on the Whalewatch Sub-Committee of the International Whaling Commission and has organized and conducted several international whale-watching workshops. The workshops promote responsible whale watching as a viable ecological and economical alternative to whaling by assisting in: the development of national regulations and/or guidelines throughout the world; the development of education and scientific programs associated with whale-watching platforms; the organization of training programs for operators and tour guides; and the development of ‘floating classrooms’ on local whale-watch vessels.
Her marine education work in the Caribbean has touched over twenty thousand schoolchildren and their teachers, and she has trained college interns to collect scientific data in the region. Dr. Carlson has authored scientific papers as well as education materials for distribution in the United States, the Caribbean islands and South America.
Mike graduated from Millersville University and worked with captive bottlenose dolphins and sea lions. Once on Cape Cod, he worked as Regional manager and videographer for the Whale Video Company and videotaped over 3,000 whale watches. Mike also worked as a first mate aboard the Dolphin Fleet and a naturalist assistant for the Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies.
In 2004, after a decade of whale watching, Mike worked as a PCCS naturalist and in 2005 was hired to coordinated their whale watch efforts. He is looking forward to an expanded collaborative effort and working towards maximizing the thousands of hours of footage collected by the Whale Video Company.
Elizabeth Bradfield has been working as a naturalist and marine educator for over ten years, many of them spent on the waters of Cape Cod Bay. She first encountered humpback whales in Southeast Alaska, where she worked as a deckhand on ship that ran week-long natural history tours, an experience that inspired her to become a naturalist. Her naturalist work has taken her to Baja California Sur, Mexico; the Eastern Canadian Arctic; Southeast Alaska; and beyond, but she keeps returning to Cape Cod’s amazingly rich waters. In addition to her time with the Dolphin Fleet, she volunteers for the Cape Cod Stranding Network and for the seal research program at the Center for Coastal Studies.
A writer as well as a naturalist, she is the author of two books of poems: Approaching Ice (Persea, 2010) and Interpretive Work (Arktoi, 2008). She also runs the grassroots-distributed and guerilla-art-inspired Broadsided Press www.broadsidedpress.org, which publishes monthly literary/visual collaborations.
John C. Conlon holds a B.S. in biology with a minor in environ mental science from Stonehill College. The first nine years of his career were spent conducting environ mental monitoring and impact research at the Center for Coastal Studies in Provincetown, MA. He worked for 22 years as senior field guide and first mate for Portuguese Princess Exc., a whale watch company based in Provincetown. John holds a 100 gross ton merchant marine license and in the past has worked as a field guide in the Florida Everglades and for trips to view polar bears in Churchill, Manitoba on western Hudson Bay, Canada.
John presently works for the Dolphin Fleet as a first mate, field guide and researcher specializing in fin whales’ presence and use of the Stellwagen Bank region. The speed and aloofness of fin whales (also called “finbacks”) masks their beauty and obscures our understanding of their place in the ecosystem. Given an ability to recognize fin whales as individuals using their dorsal fins and pig ment markings combined with over two decades of ti me and patience John hopes to share, with Dolphin Fleet passengers, the beauty of fin whales and clarify the obscurity of their place in the world around.
John also works as a field guide for Baja Expeditions hosting week-long whale watch trips in Baja California Sur, Mexico. These trips focus on whales, sea lions, pelagic birds, reptiles, as well as the palaeontology and geology of the gulf and peninsular provinces of Baja California. Blue-footed and brown boobies nest on the cliff faces of the sea lion rookery at Los Islotes which itself lies just north of several exposed fractures of the San Andreas Fault. Blue whales and fin whales feed on krill offshore of San Telmo with its 23 million year old desmostylene (a semi aquatic hippo-like creature mammal) fossils.
More recently John has accepted a guest lecturer position at the Hel Marine Station on the southern Baltic Sea. The station is part of the Institute of Oceanography, University of Gdansk, Poland. John’s lectures focus primarily on the natural history, and research / conservation efforts on whales in the United States and Mexico. Those lectures are presented in reference to whales that venture into the southern Baltic Sea and northern Polish waters.
John has self-published two books. RAZORBACK: A Natural History of the Finback Whale. RAZORBACK gives a detailed look at fin whales on a worldwide scale while incorperating many of John’s personal observations over the years. John’s second book is IN THE GIANT’S SHADOW: Reflections on Finback Whales, Southwestern Gulf of California and Adjacent Baja California Sur. This book focuses on the finback whales of the Gulf of California, Mexico weaving these animals into the broader natural history of the area. The book includes 16 pages of John’s photography of the region. John also maintains an extensive bibliography, most of which is technical publications on the biology, ecology and behavior of fin whales.
Reflecting back on his years of work John recalls with a sense of awe watching a twelve foot long Everglades alligator stand up high on all four legs and for 10 minutes stalk cat-like toward a great blue heron. The heron was keen enough to understand the gator’s slow motion approach. He also recalls a minus 20 degree day in northern Manitoba when the inhaled air was cold enough to be felt going down though his chest and into his lungs. Two subadult male polar bears wrestled to the point of overheated and tired. One of the bears then broke through 6 or 8 inches of pond–ice to go for a quick cooling swim only to e merge from the icy water, briefly shake dry, and then resu me wrestling.
John also recalls a favorite fin whale sighting. The water was glassy calm, transparent and filled with thousands of comb jellyfish also called ctenophores. One fin whale swam beneath the water’s surface. The whale’s slender body, powered by steady tail strokes, glided through the water and among the thousands of jellyfish. The sun cast ctenophore shadows onto the finback’s sides and over its back. Upon passing over the tail’s trailing edge the shadows instantly vanished leaving only the comb jellyfish.
Mark has been a naturalist with the Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies on board the Dolphin Fleet from 1983 through 2005. While at the Center, he participated in North Atlantic right whale and humpback whale habitat use studies, aerial survey work, and assisted in humpback whale rescues.
In his role as a biological illustrator, he has designed educational posters, fundraising designs, logos, and illustrations for scientific publication for research and conservation organizations throughout the New England area. His drawings of whales and dolphins, used for buttons and t-shirts, are well-known to whale watchers
Mark is a biology and ecology teacher at Sandwich High School. He resides with his wife Lucy, and their two sons, Keegan and Kyle, in Brewster.
Dennis Minsky’s career as a field biologist began on Cape Cod in 1974, at Cape Cod National Seashore, where he assisted in the development and execution of a program of research and protection for nesting seabirds. He continued his involvement in the Park Service with a season (1979) of work with the South Florida Research Center, conducting faunal and floral inventories and fire ecology studies in Everglades National Park and the Big Cypress Preserve and doing some census work in Florida Bay and the Florida Keys.
In 1980 he moved to southern California, where he was engaged in coastal and marine surveys and studies for various state and federal agencies from Santa Barbara to Baja California, and also earned a master’s degree in Biology.
In 1985 he began developing and teaching a program of Environmental Science at a middle school in New Jersey, with an emphasis on the Hudson River ecosystem; he continued this for 20 years. Beginning in 2008 he returned to a seasonal position with the Park Service, working with shorebirds and terns.
Minsky first was associated with the Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies in 1995, and has been educating people about whales and the ocean ecosystem ever since. He has been a resident of Provincetown since 1968 and returned fulltime in 2005. Since then he has been active in the Provincetown Conservation Commission, the Open Space Committee (currently the chair of both), the Community Preservation Committee, and the Provincetown Conservation Trust.
Nancy has been employed as a naturalist on the Dolphin Fleet Whale Watch boats since 1996. Her commitment to working with animals and educating the public about them started at an early age. Nancy volunteered hundreds of hours to the New England Aquarium and was part of the team that successfully rescued, rehabilitated and released three pilot whales that stranded on Cape Cod in 1986. Nancy has a degree in biology from Palm Beach Atlantic College and worked for Sea World training bottlenose dolphins and California sea lions. At Mystic Marinelife Aquarium in Conn. she cared for and trained Steller Sea Lions and Beluga whales while educating people of all ages.
After marrying and relocating to Cape Cod, Nancy joined the Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies aboard the Dolphin Fleet to continue her work with marine mammals as a scientist and educator. During this time she earned a Masters degree in education and has been a high school science teacher on Cape Cod since 1998. Nancy also owns and operates a local bed and breakfast with her husband. Although Nancy admits to missing the one on one contact with the animals that she had experienced in the past, working on the whale watch boats has been most rewarding. “Being on the ocean and experiencing the whales in their natural environment is a thrill! Collecting data that contributes to our understanding of them, their habitat, and our impact on them, and then sharing that knowledge with the public and our government, ultimately leads to a better means of protecting them and the world we share.
Thérèse Provenzano, Doctor of Education/Musical Arts, earned undergraduate honors degrees in her majors of Biology, Music, English, and Education from Brandeis University; Master of Music degrees with high honors in both Music Education/ Conducting and Piano Performance and Masters in Biology from the University of Michigan; and the Doctor of Education and Musical Arts degree from Boston University.
Dr. Provenzano has worked as a volunteer and naturalist assistant with the Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies aboard the Dolphin Fleet since 1985. She is currently employed by the Weston Public Schools and works with the rehabilitation of injured wild animals at Wild Care in Eastham.