Whales Of The Silver Bank
Your Cetacean Specialists
All of Aquatic Adventures expeditions are naturalist guided, with the utmost care taken in providing you with a knowledgeable guide. One of the big differences between our operation and others is the experience and consistency of the guides on a year-to-year basis, ensuring you an exciting, educational and trouble-free expedition. Our team is extremely passionate about what they do, and they love sharing their aquatic world with you. The Aquatic Adventures Team has collectively spent 73 seasons (800 weeks) on the Silver Bank, and has more experience than any other operator.
Since 1991, the Aquatic Adventures Team’s collective knowledge stems from spending 73 seasons or 800 weeks in the field, watching, listening, and trying to discern the movements, behaviors, and attitudes of the North Atlantic humpback whale. Recording behaviors and thoughts as they occur has helped us theorize and understand the movement, breaching, lob tailing, communications, resting, rowdy groups, courtship and mother/calf interaction. Not to mention behavior changes due to time of season, wind and sea conditions, positions of the moon and the variable weather patterns we experience throughout this time period. This information is passed on to the College of the Atlantic and the Center for Coastal Studies for fluke ID’s and behavioral studies. We digitally record the song of the humpback whales and send these recordings to Dr. Chris Clark, head of the Department of Ornithology at Cornell University. Students of marine sciences at Wheelock College receive three college credits by joining us on a one-week expedition and assisting us in collecting this information as well as fulfilling additional requirements set by the college.
This 30 year period that we have spent on the Silver Bank has given us the opportunity to contribute our work, associate and study with some of the leading organizations and researchers in the Cetacean community as well as working with and providing footage and images to film crews, leading magazines, newspapers and professional photographers from around the world: YONAH (Year of the North Atlantic Humpback, a three-year DNA project with researchers from 7 nations), Malcolm Clarke, David McTaggart, Greenpeace International, NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), Caribbean Tagging Project (2008, 2009), Center for Coastal Studies, College of the Atlantic, Cornell University, Wheelock College, Atlantic Cetacean Research Center, Roger Payne’s Whale Conservation Society, IFAW, Dolphin Research Center, Good Morning America, Dominican Republic Tourism, Ashes and Snow (Gregory Colbert), BBC, Howard Hall Productions, Bob Cranston Productions, IMAX, NBC, The Today Show (2 times), MSNBC, 3 separate National Geographic Specials, Disney, Paramount, Crest Films, Segment Films, Sea Cam, 3 separate NHK of Japan specials, Amazing Animals, Discovery, Antenna 3, GBTV, PBS, CBS, ABC, Bloomberg, UFO and The Sports Channel.
Being responsible for developing whale watching on the Silver Bank has led us in a direction from operator, to naturalists, to being actively involved with the Sanctuary Commission of the “Sanctuary for the Marine Mammals of the Dominican Republic” and the Center for Coastal Studies.
Prior to the 1996 season, the Comision Rectora appointed Tom Conlin as their representative on the Silver Bank. As the person with the most time and experience on the Silver Bank, he has been placed in a position to assist the sanctuary commission by providing the proper information needed to improve the guidelines established as well as educate the crew members of the commercial vessels involved. His duties included: The surveillance of all applications in regards to the regulations of the Sanctuary Committee concerning all vessels located on the Silver Bank, assisting professional photographers and film crews, training and assisting all operators, captains and crews in approach and passive in-water whale encounter techniques, coordinating and determining the permanent location of anchoring and mooring positions for each vessel in the area and recommending the best mooring system for each site. He was responsible for informing and notifying the captains of all vessels of observations and adoption of the regulations of the Comision Rectora, as well as, informing and recommending appropriate sanctions and/or withdrawing permits from any violators of the existing regulations. In 2007, he was asked by the Secretary of the Environment to rewrite the regulations, contracts, and agreements for all operators and visitors of the Sanctuary.
In 2008 we were asked to assist NOAA to help place 5 satellite tags on adults at the beginning of the season to help understand their movements during the mating and calving season. During the 2009 season, we once again assisted NOAA in placing satellite tags on eight adults prior to their migration north.
In 2014 the Aquatic Adventures Team was trained by the Center for Coastal Studies through the IWC (International Whaling Commission) to be part of Large Whale Disentanglement Program. In 2015, we partnered with the Center for Coastal Studies to help advance science, conservation, and stewardship of an iconic species – the humpback whale. In 2017, Tom Conlin was placed on the Advisory Board of the Center for Coastal Studies. In 2018, Tom was also joined SeaLegacy as an advisor.
I’ve had the privilege of spending 29 years and 322 weeks working with whales on the Silver Bank. My entire focus is on learning about whale behavior and supplying you with the type of experiences you’re expecting. This year-to-year, day-to-day learning process has enabled me to provide our participants with an unmatched opportunity to experience sensational surface activity in tandem with unbelievable “passive in-water whale encounters”. As a licensed 1600-ton U.S.C.G. Master, Master Diver Trainer and Advanced Free Diver, Advisor to the Center for Coastal Studies and SeaLegacy. I have a thorough understanding of our ocean, above and below the surface of the water.
Lorenzo hails from Samana, in the Dominican Republic. Humpback whales regularly frequent Samana Bay, and in the early 1990’s, Lorenzo was present when YONAH began to assess their numbers. In 1997, Lorenzo worked as a park ranger for the whale season, furthering his interest in whales (and photography). In 2000, Lorenzo attained the position of “Coordinador de Observation de Ballenas”, in charge of whale tourism oversight. Lorenzo began working with Aquatic Adventures in 2004, where his lifetime of whale observation serves him well as a guide, tender operator, and photographer/videographer. Lorenzo also holds a PADI Advanced Open Water Certification.
Denise was born and raised in Baton Rouge, but spent her summers sailing on the Gulf of Mexico with her family. Her love for the sea led her to work first as a Divemaster (on liveaboards throughout the Caribbean), and later as an Instructor. She now resides in Ft Myers, FL, where she works as a PADI SCUBA Master Instructor, USCG Licensed (100-ton) Captain, and massage therapist. Denise has now spent 14 seasons working with whales on the Silver Bank, and brings a wealth of experience to the team. Denise has a passion for cetaceans, and a love for sharing that passion with others. Her impressive skills in guiding and operating the tenders ensure quality interactions above and below water.
Joe grew up in land-locked Calgary and for as long as he can remember has been fascinated with the ocean and all the wonders it holds. When he was 19, Joe became a PADI Scuba diving Instructor and found himself working on liveaboards in the Caribbean. Having a Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) in both Marine Biology and Ocean Science from Canada’s leading university in Marine Science (Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia), Joe has spent 6 seasons with the humpback whales on the Silver Bank bringing a marine biologist perspective into the mix. His passion for cetaceans grows each season as he continues to learn more of their behavior and characteristics.
Gillian was born and raised in Kingston, Canada. At the age of 17 she traveled to New Zealand where she learned to SCUBA and discovered her passion for the ocean. Her interests grew as she traveled the globe to SCUBA and volunteer for various marine conservation efforts which eventually inspired her to receive her B.Sc. in Marine Biology and Sustainability from Dalhousie University, Nova Scotia. As the newest member of the Aquatic Adventures team, Gillian brings a fresh new perspective and continues to educate herself with the latest research available. She is an avid steward of the sea and gets her greatest joy in life by empowering individuals to become stewards themselves through education and first hand experience.
An avid traveler with a passion for cetaceans, Heather began utilizing her experience on the Silver Bank (6 weeks and counting) as the marketing coordinator for Aquatic Adventures in 2012. In managing the social media pages, website, newsletter and blog, she keeps everyone updated, educated and entertained all while providing excellent customer service. Heather recently took on additional responsibilities within both Aquatic Adventures and Adventure Quest X, including being the primary point of contact to offer guests a seamless and positive experience from the moment of inquiry, to booking, to the start of their trip. Heather’s cheerful demeanor, attention to detail, passion for wildlife travel and photography, and genuine desire that our guests’ experiences on their adventures with us are exceptional are what makes her a valuable part of the team.
From Our Clients
This was the second time on the Silver Bank and the first time with Aquatic Adventures. Tom, captain and crew did an outstanding job; simply aces across the board.
-- Matt and Joedee Foster