POETRY! World-class whale research vessel sails for U.S., Iceland

There lies the port; the vessel puffs her sail:

There gloom the dark, broad seas. My mariners,

Souls that have toil’d, and wrought, and thought with me—

That ever with a frolic welcome took

The thunder and the sunshine  . . .

Song of the Whale, the International Fund for Animal Welfare’s purpose built, and state-of-the-art research vessel sailed today from the cloudy port of Ipswich in the United Kingdom. 

First launched by IFAW Honorary Board Members Pierce and Keeley Brosnan in June, 2004, Song of the Whale has since studied whales and threats to their habitats from Iceland to Egypt and back again.  

Today she is sailing toward the Azores Islands of Portugal, where in decades past, IFAW helped the good people of the Azores migrate from whaling to responsible whale watching, now a thriving sector of the ecotourism industry in the Azores and coastal communities in 118 other countries and territories worldwide.

. . . The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks:

The long day wanes: the slow moon climbs: the deep

Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends,

’Tis not too late to seek a newer world . . .

Late next month, Song of the Whale will sail across the Atlantic to the waters of New England and the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary just off Cape Cod, where IFAW has its international headquarters. 

Our vessel will serve as the flagship for a unique research partnership focused on studying humpback whales, improving our understanding of this magnificent species and how we can help protect them from the many threats they face today in the Northwest Atlantic and around the world.   

After spending the month of June in IFAW’s “backyard”, our mariners will make for the chilly waters off Iceland where they will conduct critical research in support of whale protection efforts championed by a growing chorus of voices in the Icelandic Parliament and our partners active in IceWhale, a coalition of Icelandic whale watching operators.

. . . Push off, and sitting well in order smite

The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds

To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths

Of all the western stars . . .

And so, as the ITV News clip below documents, IFAW’s Song  of the Whale is off, sailing toward the western stars.   Please join this journey over the weeks and months ahead and return for updates on her 2012 research voyage.


If our planet’s great whales survive and thrive in the 21st century, it will be because committed people like you helped concerned organizations like IFAW  . . . to strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

--PR  (with thanks to ITV and to Alfred Lord Tennyson for his magnificent poem Ulysses)

ITV News video “Suffolk team set sail to study whales” – Video launches in new window


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Brian Sharp, Emergency Relief Officer, Stranding Coordinator
Manager, Marine Mammal Rescue and Research
Dr. Maria (Masha) N. Vorontsova, Senior Advisor to the IFAW Marine Conservation
Senior Advisor to the IFAW Marine Conservation Program
Matt Collis, Director, International Policy
Director, International Policy
Patrick Ramage, Program Director, Whales
Program Director, Marine Conservation