School/Camp Groups

Welcome to a floating educational experience aboard Captain John Whale Watching & Fishing Tours. For more than 60 years, Captain John Whale Watching & Fishing Tours crews have provided an unparalleled educational experience for schools and camp groups.

Crews aboard Captain John boats are passionate about whales and their environment.  They recognize what a privilege it is to live and work along the waters of New England.  Their insights into the marine environment are sure to make your experience with us educational, fun and memorable.

Captain John Whale Watching & Fishing Tours offers a variety of education experiences for students and camp groups.  Contact our group sales director, Captain Bob Avila at 508-746-2643 or by email at for more information.

Our Floating Classroom:

If you are an educator looking to implement a hands-on marine biology excursion or simply coordinate and enjoy a school field trip, you will find our Floating Classroom exciting and educational.  Call Captain Bob Avila at 508-746-2643 or e-mail him at to book your trip now.

Our Floating Classroom program offers educational and engaging hands-on activities for kids of all ages. Select the station topics that address your specific curriculum needs and classroom interests. This hands-on offshore program is designed to meet State Frameworks and National Science Standards.

For both our 2-hour and 4-hour floating classroom programs, students are provided with a harbor tour of historic Plymouth. As we approach the Duxbury Pier Lighthouse, we will conduct a plankton tow to collect organisms for later observation. Once the net is back onboard the boat, students will rotate through 4 onboard learning stations that can include:

  • Vessel Safety and Navigation
  • Marine Mammals
  • Touch Tank and Critter Classification
  • Plankton Tow and Observation
  • The American Lobster
  • Saving the Horseshoe Crab
  • Essential Marine Knots

Our extended 4-hour program allows students to try their hand at bottom fishing with rods, reels and bait. Our expert fishing crew will help bait hooks and remove fish when caught. Field guides and measuring instruments will be available to allow students to identify and measure their catch to determine if it is a keeper! We have a full galley for food and refreshments for our 4-hour Floating Classroom programs.

Station Overviews:

Vessel Safety and Navigation: Our U.S. Coast Guard-licensed captain will provide an overview of the "bridge" of the ship, the basics of marine navigation and chart plotting, and explain the functionality of all the sophisticated electronic equipment the captain and crew use every day. Marine radar, depth finders, radio communication systems, and Loran/GPS units are just a few of the topics to be discussed. Students will be allowed on the bridge for a first-hand inspection.

Marine Mammals:  A marine biologist will lead this station that is devoted to those types of marine mammals found in our New England waters. Whale bones, whale baleen and whale prey items will be available for students to pick-up and examine. Hands-on activities provided at this station include the blubber glove activity and feeding activities that demonstrate the feeding differences of baleen and toothed whales.

Touch Tank and Critter Classification: Students learn about marine algae and marine invertebrates that live in our coastal waters. Students and campers are provided hands-on experience with live spider crabs, sea stars, and sea lettuce, while our marine educator talks about their biology and ecology. Their habits, as well as their importance to the marine environment will be discussed. Your group will also learn about the flora and fauna that co-exist in a variety of marine environments.

Plankton Tow and Observation: Students will use onboard stereomicroscopes to observe the plankton sample that was collected earlier in Plymouth Harbor. Classification and identification keys will help students identify the different types of zooplankton collected that forms the base of the marine food web. The marine educator will discuss the importance of these species, and their place in the world's food chain. Students will also have an opportunity to get a closer look at our plankton net and to learn how the net’s construction helps to strain plankton from the water similar to a whale’s baleen.

The American Lobster: We will have a lobster trap available for students to observe as our marine educator explains the methods of this important and historic New England fishery. Students will observe live lobsters in our display bins and will learn about their unique biology and ecology. Then students will use traditional banding and measuring tools on lobster models to better understand activities involved in this fishery.

Saving the Horseshoe Crab: Students will observe live horseshoe crabs (if available and in season) and learn about their biology and ecology. Hands-on activities will include learning how scientists measure the carapace and weigh individual horseshoe crabs.

Essential Marine Knots: Although there are many different types of marine knots, there are a handful that are essential to sailors and boaters alike. Our experienced crew will demonstrate the “how to’s” of knot tying and will help students and campers practice these knots using short lengths of line. Those marine knots that will be reviewed include the square knot, the clove hitch and the bowline knot.