Ocean Naturalist

Kate Spencer is now leading custom Monterey Bay whale-watching and coastal wildlife tours on the Zodiac-style Fast Raft Ranger, the first small, open tour boat in the area. Book a Fast Raft trip any time of year at www.fastraft.com.

From her home base on the shore of Monterey Bay, California, Kate has led thousands of whale watching trips  year-round since 2002. Almost every year she ventures abroad into the ocean wilderness to paint and share her knowledge of whales and marine life on some of the best tours in the world.

Kate has worked on a whale research vessel in Alaska, piloted a dive boat for Smithsonian researchers in Belize, and traveled to the icy continent of Antarctica as a naturalist and zodiac driver on small expedition touring ships. In all she spent more than a year of her life living and lecturing on large cruise ships as the onboard naturalist in Alaska and southern South America. She has a unique perspective on the environmental and social impacts of cruising, as well as a wealth of experiences in remote locations with curious travelers from all over the world.

Kate is available to accompany tours and expeditions and to work in remote locations as a naturalist, guide, and research staff anywhere in the world. Please email her with inquiries.

Kate’s Ocean Expeditions:

Alaska 2001, R/V Evolution: Humpback Whale Research with the Alaska Whale Foundation, Northern Inside Passage
Alaska 2001, Sea Princess: Inside Passage, Glacier Bay, Prince William Sound
Alaska 2002, Dawn Princess: Inside Passage, Glacier Bay, Prince William Sound
Alaska 2004, Celebrity Millenium: Inside Passage & Hubbard Glacier
Alaska 2005, Celebrity Mercury: Inside Passage & Hubbard Glacier
South America 2006, Celebrity Infinity: Rio Carnaval, Cape Horn, Falkland Islands
South America 2006-2007, Celebrity Infinity: Panama Canal, Cape Horn, Falklands, Carnaval in Rio de Janiero
Baja California 2009, Baja Discovery Camp: Laguna San Ignacio in Gray Whale Season
Antarctica 2011-2012, Cheesemans’ Ecology Safaris, on Ortelius: Antarctic Peninsula, South Georgia Island, and the Falkland Islands
Antarctica 2012-2013, Cheesemans’ Ecology Safaris, on Akademik Ioffe: Antarctic Peninsula, South Georgia Island, and the Falkland Islands
Monterey Bay 2002-2013, Sea Wolf II and Point Sur Clipper: Monterey Bay Whale Watch’s Senior Naturalist
Monterey Bay 2013–onward, Fast Raft Ranger: Naturalist and Skipper

Have you been on a trip with Kate the Naturalist? She’d love to hear from you!


2 thoughts on “Ocean Naturalist

  1. Hi Kate! We are booked on the January 2 cruise from Buenos Aires to Santiago on Celebrity Infinity. Are you going to be onboard? We really look forward to hearing lectures from an onboard naturalist such as yourself, and learning more about the fantastic sights we will see…

    • Hi Scott,
      Congratulations on booking that cruise! It's great fun. I'm afraid I won't be your naturalist, but whoever it is will be very glad to have such interested guests as yourselves. I highly recommend making the day trek up to Peninsula Valdez out of Puerto Madryn, Argentina (you can even rent a car and go yourself); getting out to any of the penguin colonies in the Falkland Islands if your cruise stops there; doing the Beagle Channel catamaran cruise in Ushuaia to see Southern Sea Lions and nesting Imperial Cormorants; either of the penguin colony trips from Punta Arenas; and heading inland to see the Osorno Volcano and the incredible basalt waterfalls near Puerto Montt, Chile. A special tip: watch for Blue Whales the day before Puerto Montt as your ship turns from the open sea into the channels leading to Chiloe Sound. I saw as many as 17 on the entry into Ninualac Channel. Ask your naturalist to help you figure out when that is. That is a recently discovered feeding population of the rare giants. Valparaiso is a beautiful town to walk around, and from there you can visit the poet Pablo Neruda's second home in Isla Negra, which looks almost exactly like Carmel, California. There is so much to see and do in South American that you can't go wrong, and I never got tired of penguins. They are not all the same — only in the Falklands can you see the Gentoos and Kings (though actually there is a longer Beagle Channel cruise from Ushuaia that does nose up onto the beach of a Gentoo colony). Finally, spend as much time as you can on deck at sea! Watch the albatrosses, shearwaters, giant petrels, prions, and storm petrels dancing over the great waves and playing the winds like skaters. They are unutterably magnificent fliers. The worse the seas, the better the birds — don't be fooled by anyone complaining about the weather. The real show is outside. I'd love to hear from you during or after the cruise. And now I'm inspired to put up some posts about my experiences on those marvelous Southern Ocean cruises.
      Thank you for reminding me!
      All the best,

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