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Learning by doing is the key here, but you may need to do a little digging to find an operation with enough resources to offer you a valuable internship. The Isle of Shoals, northern New England's oldest whale-watching company, promotes an internship program that teaches students of all ages and backgrounds about sea life and how it fits into the larger ecological picture. Interns in this program act as apprentices to more experienced guides and then lead small tour groups themselves. This type of experience is a wonderful opportunity to learn all about field identification of various species, practice research and observation methods, and gain marine navigation and communication skills. Best of all, you don't need any background to be successful; the Isle of Shoals program and others like it will give you all the training you need.

The History of Whale Watching

Today, commercial whale watching is a billion-dollar industry conducted in seventy different countries and territories, yet the industry has very humble origins. In 1955, a San Diego fisherman, Chuck Chamberlin, organized the first commercial whale-watching trip, charging customers one dollar to climb on his boat and cruise the waters of Southern California looking for gray whales. This idea began to catch on, other fishermen began taking customers out to sea, and soon many people were traveling to the West Coast just to embark on whale-watching adventures.

By the 1970s, whale-watching tours became available on the East Coast, and in 1980 a Spanish fisherman began offering similar expeditions in Gibraltar Bay. Before long, whale-watching tours were also being offered in the Caribbean, South America, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan. What began as one fisherman's attempt to make a little extra money has become a huge industry. Many people, from fishermen to Wall Street traders, have followed Chamberlin's lead and left behind more traditional careers in order to establish whale-watching tours from the Arctic to the South Pacific.

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Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesCool Careers Without CollegeWHALE WATCHER - Description, Education/training, The History Of Whale Watching, Outlook, Fun Facts About Whales