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None of the material in this website may be reproduced in any way, shape or form in any other written publication or web site without prior written permission from Lake Michigan Whale Watching.



This is the best guarded secret of the Great Lakes. Yes it is true!

White Sperm Whales, like Moby Dick in the book of Herman Melville, are abundant in the fresh waters of southern Lake Michigan. Observing this rare cetacean is an exciting spectacle, unique, made possible only by Lake Michigan Whale Watching. Discover nature`s surprises with us ... Come for the Whales, Stay for the Dolphins!


Southern Lake Michigan is known for it's wonderful sailing and cool fresh water, but little has been known about the abundant whale and dolphin population until recently. As winter turns to spring and the cool waters of the lake are warmed by the sun, the fresh water sperm whales and dolphins begin their annual southbound 1300-mile journey from Hudson Bay. Although there are a number of locks at Sault St. Marie, these beautiful and intelligent creatures forge a faster route through nearby streams, and by mid-June, they have reached the breeding grounds of southern Lake Michigan that they know as their "summer home". Freed from the threat of the whalers, taking benefits of the clean waters and abundant food of coho salmon, lake trout and zebra mussels, the whales remain in the southernmost 60 miles of the lake through mid-September. whale14.jpg

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The clean, fresh waters of the lake especially provide the dolphins benefits over their siblings swimming in salt water. Studies have shown that because they have no "salt layer" to coat their slick skin, they are able to swim 40% faster than if they were in salt water. Also, with less buoyancy in the fresh water, it is believed that dolphins are able to reach depths that would be impossible in salt water, reaching food that is swimming along the lake bed.

The whales and dolphins have become part of the scenery and culture of the lake, and their connection to its history is as ancient as the Navajo Indians who settled the shore centuries ago. Although there are stories of the whales causing many of the shipwrecks in Lake Michigan in the late 1800s and early 1900s, these have proven to be fables; the freshwater whale is a gentle creature, and any negative reputation is undeserved. Come see for yourself ... whale10.jpg

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The gentle giants seem to be as curious about us as we are about them.

"Look but do not touch" is the motto at Lake Michigan Whale Watching.

The sperm whales love our boats as much as we love the whales ... note the slick coat of the whales in Lake Michigan ... no salt residue!

A historical note ... the Lake Michigan Sperm Whale has been protected since the early 1920's, due to a little known provision of the Volstead Act. This spelled an end to the carnage caused by the whalers along the southern shores of Lake Michigan, and ensured the protection of this fresh water mammal. You can see remnants of whaling villages all over the shores of Michigan, Indiana and Illinois ... many of the traditional whaling harbors are now the present day marinas of Michigan, Indiana and Illinois.

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Whale! Whale in sight!
Thar she blows!
The shout echoes
along the southern shore of Lake Michigan!

If the song of the whale fascinates you ... if you're impressed with the power of the sperm whales ... if you want to see dolphins playing ...

Accept our invitation! Sail with us, and Lake Michigan Whale Watching will take you on a tour you'll never forget!

Come and join us!

Early in the morning, Hector climbs to the top of the sand dunes and takes his place in one of our small lookouts placed in high strategic points. He puts his binoculars on the support and turns on the VHF radio. A quick look at the horizon tells him where to start searching for Whales and Dolphins. "Today is a nice day to see a whale, the lake is calm, there is no fog" - says Hector, in a first contact through his VHF. With patience (LOTS of patience), he looks for a white water blow, he searches for any sign of a sperm whale. Vigia
Hector, the whale spotter

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A lifetime experience as a whale spotter simplifies his movements. He wants to find the whales before the boats "TRANQUIL" and "F/X" leave the harbor. At the sight of a Whale or Dolphin, Hector immediately alerts "TRANQUIL" and "F/X" skippers, who have already informed the passengers about what they are going to see.

With this method in finding whales and dolphins, we can achieve better observations. The traditional method involved an elaborate pattern of blows of a conch shell, but our modern technology allows us to use VHF radio and Sprint PCS cell telephone service. In particular, Sprint PCS service is as good on shore as it is in the middle of Lake Michigan! dolphin4.jpg

dolphin8.jpg Once a whale or a school of dolphins has been spotted by Hector, he broadcasts his dispatch on VHF channel 105, and all heck breaks loose (so to speak). Sails are hoisted, dock lines are cut with a shark knife, anchors are abandoned, seacocks are opened, and the adventure begins! "TRANQUIL" and "F/X" race side by side under full sail to the spot, and circle the whales and dolphins (but not TOO close) as if to say playfully "You can't hide from us!" The dolphins know of the game and jump over the bows of the two sturdy vessels.

Our vessels, "TRANQUIL" and "F/X" are ready for the task. Complete with sextant, compass and rudder, our vessels are well equipped and waiting for the call from Hector for the journey to begin.


One of our able captains, awaiting the call from
Hector, the Whale Spotter

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Our "Hugo Underwater Camera" placed under the hulls of our sturdy vessels will capture all action.

Even if it rains a bit, or gets a little cool, all our whale watchers seem to have a great time on their explorations aboard our vessels.


Some happy whale watchers

Getting ready to swim with the dolphins

NEW for 2002!! - If you are an accomplished swimmer, why not participate in one of our "Swim with the Fresh Water Dolphins" sessions, which are offered semi-monthly.

This unique program, designed by renowned marine biologist George Bell, allows you to get an "in your snout" look at these beautiful and unique creatures. Don't miss your chance to be a part of a "day in the life of a freshwater dolphin".


Testimonials:

"Like nothing you have ever seen"
"Nature as you have never seen it before"
"Come for the Whales, Stay for the Dolphins!
"the biggest blow-hole I have ever seen"


Getting to Lake Michigan Whale Watching:

We are located in Ernie Broglio Marina and Seaplane Lagoon, in beautiful Lower Shores, Michigan. To find us, take I-95 and exit at Exit 281, the first exit north of the Indiana-Michigan state line, then follow the "whale watching" signs to the Broglio marina ... you can't miss us. To arrive in style, fly one of our charter seaplanes, "The Admiral" or "Island Cynthia", to our private lagoon here in the Broglio marina. Your 20-minute flight from Meigs Airport in downtown Chicago will be spectacular, and a ride on one of these beauties is something you'll never forget! Contact us for details.

Also, ask us about our new sunset and moonlight cruises.


Lake Michigan Whale Watching
Ernie Broglio Marina and Seaplane Lagoon
Lower Shores, Michigan 69117
Tel or Fax - coming soon

For pricing and detailed information,

please E-Mail us: LakeMichiganWhales@yahoo.com

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UPDATE NOVEMBER 2004

Thank you to all those who have inquired to us here at Lake Michigan Whale Watching - we are overwealmed with requests for information, and your feedback has been very valuable. We are currently trying to solve a couple of problems before we can get back underway with our Lake Michigan whale-watching trips and "swim with the dolphins" program (by renowned marine-biologist George Bell).

1. Hector the whale-spotter has gone back to Guatemala for a month-long vacation/siesta. This could not have come at a worse time for those of us here at LMWW. Without Hector, we have no way of spotting the whales from high atop the sand dunes. We are currently training his understudy, Ricardo, however, it is a very steep learning curve. He's almost ready, though the loss of Hector is a huge blow to our operation.

2. Tranquil, one of our sturdy vessels, had a ruptured seacock and flooded. Unfortunately, the bilge pump is from a salt-water vessel and can only pump salt-water, not fresh-water. We did not know this when we purchased Tranquil. This has now been repaired and she is almost ready for service.

3. The FCC has severely curtailed our flights on the Admiral and Island Cynthia from Chicago to the Ernie Broglio Marina and Seaplane Lagoon. We are negotiating for resumption of our landing rights as we speak.

4. We understand that the whales and dolphins have begun their fall journey back to their winter home in Hudson Bay. This is not really a problem; it happens each year as the waters of Lake Michigan get a little cool for them. However, we expect 2005 will be just as good as 2004 for whale watching in the beautiful waters of southern Lake Michigan.

When Hector returns from Guatamala and Tranquil is again ready, I am sure that our service will resume as previously offered. I think the whales miss us, I know the dolphins do! Thank you for your patience.

- The Staff at Lake Michigan Whale Watchiing


We Get Mail!

May 1, 2005
Thank you so much for bringing this site to the world and shedding some light on the much neglected study of freshwater marine mammals.

Up here in the Northhern Lower Lake Michigan we have also sighted harbor seals on the pack ice this winter. There are unconfirmed sightings of gray seals in the upper lake also. I have spoken to the Peterson Brothers here who run a commercial fishery in the summer. They have agreed to run a spotting expedition as soon as the ice frees their vessels. With GVSU and UM research shiips standing ready in our harbor formal research is inevitable. We will keep you posted.

I have blind cc this to the Marine Mammal Research Institute in Bar Harbor for their reference. I do not know what difficulties you are having with your planes but I am sure J. Buffett woulld be interested in helping your venture with his Hemisphere Dancer.

Keep up the groundbreaking work.

_____ George, phd, LLD, BFD

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December 7, 2004
First of all, I would like to thank you for finally acknowledging the wonderful natural resource that we have in the midwest, the white sperm whale. Not only are the whales that travel the Southwest Michigan coast gentle creatures, but also spectacular to view and are one of the most enjoyable natural wonders that Michigan has to offer. I look forward to booking my next trip with you this spring at the forefront of the whale "season" and sharing the beauty of such a wonderful creature.

The dolphins appeared to be in great health after the autumn alewife run. My personal belief is that the zebra mussels are contributing to greater body fat in these fantastic mammals.

Keifer ______
Vice President, Western Michigan Freshwater Marine Mammal Association

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We received the letter below in mid-November 2002. We asked our renowned marine biologist George Bell about this and he informed us that it is likely accurate, as the whales begin their journey back toward Hudson Bay in late summer ... the timeframe of "just after Labor Day" is about right. However, he insists that it could not be a Pacific Gray, as that species is not found in the Great Lakes due to water temperature incompatibility ... stay tuned!

November 23, 2004
Dear Folks at Lake Michigan Whale Watching:

I was happy to see your LMWW website. I frequently saw these guys in late summer when I was salmon fishing. We fished a couple of times in Lake Michigan and saw the Sperm whale once. Then I started fishing right after Labor Day just inside Lake Huron by Mackinac Island. I actually developed a friendship with one of the whales up there which we named 'Old Blue'. He was a Pacific Gray (didn't know we had them in the Great Lakes) and had taken one of my lures. I got him up to the boat and showed him the pliers for removing the hook and he just held his mouth right there for me. I felt like a dentist. Anyway, after that he'd herd the salmon toward us and we'd fill our limit every time. He helped one other way also. I'd caught a too-small steelhead and the game warden came up as I was reeling it in. I just unhooked the fish and tossed him to Old Blue who promptly disposed of the evidence!

From what I hear, he's still up there with his own pod of 7 Pacific grays and ranges all the way down to the mouth of the St Clair river, but he stays away from salmon fishermen now.

I know it was exciting for me when I saw them.

Doug ______ (from northern Michigan)

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However, on Dec 6, we got a note below from someone who appears knowledgeable in this area. We have passed the information on to George Bell.

December 7, 2004
Hello, regarding an item on your Lake Michigan whale watching site. The emailed comment from Doug about seeing a pod of Pacific Gray Whales in Lake Michigan is undoubtedly a confusion by Doug with perhaps the last remnants of the Atlantic Gray Whale population. This is a significant finding. You should give it greater prominence on your site. In particular you should task your marine biologist colleague, George Bell, to research this further. I think George, though he undoubtedly meant well, was too quick to offer a decision based on temperature. George may not be familiar with the scientific literature on the historical population of gray whales in the North Atlantic. There are historic mentions and skeletal remains of gray whales in the North Atlantic including America. The gray whale was common in American waters at one time, and was known as the scrag whale to whalers. Radiocarbon dating shows the most recent specimen to date from colonial times, around 1675 AD. If sperm whales can transit from the North Atlantic to Lake Michigan, then so can gray whales. See: JG Mead and ED Mitchell. Atlantic Gray Whales. IN: The Gray Whale, Eschrichtius robustus. Edited by ML Jones, SL Swartz, and S Leatherwood. Orlando : Academic Press, 1984. pp. 33-53 If you would like me to send you or George a photocopy of this chapter, let me know. Doug's finding of a gray whale pod in Lake Michigan is very significant, and George can publish his fieldwork on this remnant population of Atlantic gray whales in a scientific journal. Thank you for your very informative site on whale watching in Lake Michigan. My Navajo forebears would surely appreciate your commitment to increasing public appreciation for Lake Michigan and its natural environment.

Submitted by Peter _____, San Diego, CA


This website is not intended for readers under 18 years of age, and is for entertainment purposes only.

None of the material in this website may be reproduced in any way, shape or form in any other written publication or web site without prior written permission from Lake Michigan Whale Watching.

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