Nags Head Dolphin Watch – Dolphin Tours

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Join us on a unique eco-tour to search for wild Atlantic bottlenose dolphins and view the wildlife of the Outer Banks. Aboard our covered 40 foot pontoon boat, you will observe bottlenose dolphins, pelicans, and osprey!


Join us on a unique eco-tour to search for wild Atlantic bottlenose dolphins and view the wildlife of the Outer Banks! Biologists run these dolphin tours as part of their research on these beloved aquatic animals, so you know this will be an interesting trip. Passengers will be able to see how researchers with the Outer Banks Center for Dolphin Research, a nonprofit organization, conduct their research and hear about some of the discoveries from more than a decade of studies and monitoring.

Some of the hundreds of Atlantic bottlenose dolphins in the area show up so frequently they’ve even been given names, like “Rake,” “Scarlet,” and “Onion.” Onion was first identified in Beaufort, North Carolina almost 20 years ago, and he has been sighted there almost every winter since. It has been discovered that Nags Head is his summer home, along with an extensive family of more than 100 members. In his early years, Onion had an unfortunate encounter with a boat propeller and his damaged fin has made him one of the most easily recognized dolphins around.

Conducted on 40-foot covered pontoon boats in the Roanoke Sound, the trip takes around 2 hours. Along the way, researchers will talk about their work and share their discoveries from their ongoing study. While the boat is moving, dolphins will be playing in their natural habitat alongside the vessel. Passengers will also learn about the pelicans, osprey and other birds that congregate in the sounds, as well as the ecology and history of this dynamic area. The Outer Banks is an ideal place to take a dolphin boat trip to learn even more about these miraculous creatures. These excursions will get you close enough to safely connect with these incredible animals and to experience them in the wild, in a world where humans are visitors and the bottlenose dolphin is happily at home. A great trip for families and people of all ages!

*Private cruises are available by phone reservation depending on availability. Please send us an email to group_sales@kittyhawk.com

Note: Per Coast Guard regulations, infants ARE counted as passengers. We must know the total number of people in your party- including infants.


About the Vessels:

The Nags Head Dolphin Watch conducts it’s tours in the Roanoke Sound in between Nags Head and Manteo. The Nags Head Dolphin Watch operates two separate vessels conducting the same tour to see the same dolphin. You can have virtually the same experience aboard each boat, they simply depart from slightly different locations. The different locations are about 5-7 minutes drive apart from each other.

The Pheonix is docked at Whalebone Watersports (Nags Head)

The Miss Bodie Island is docked at Shallowbag Bay Club (Manteo)


Fins Up! A day on the water with the Outer Banks Center for Dolphin Research
My Outer Banks Home Magazine – July 6, 2016
by Meg Puckett

On a sunny, breezy day toward the end of May, a pontoon boat bounces across the whitecaps on the Roanoke Sound, heading south from Whalebone Junction in search of some of the Outer Banks’ most charismatic residents: bottlenose dolphins. The boat is filled with people from all over the country (okay, today they’re mostly all from Ohio, but that’s still a long way from the Outer Banks!) eager to catch a glimpse of these storied marine mammals. There’s no guarantee that dolphins will be found during the tour, but that just serves as a reminder that these are wild animals, and seeing them in their natural habitat is a very special thing.
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