Sailors’ Series lecture to focus on research vessel that helped launch modern whale conservation

The Research Vessel Abel-J: March 21

NEW BEDFORD, Mass. – The annual Sailors’ Series of lectures at the New Bedford Whaling Museum returns on Thursday, March 21 with “The Research Vessel Abel-J: Her Concept, Design, and Tales of Voyages Toward the Ends of the Earth,” a presentation by Captain Bob Wallace. Launched in 1989, the Abel-J was specially outfitted to help researcher William Watkins study and record marine mammal sounds. These recordings helped launch the modern whale and marine mammal conservation movement. Every year, the Sailors’ Series presents a wide variety of experiences and adventures by individuals with lifelong commitments to sailing, boats, and the sea. The 29th annual series is supported by Ruth and Hope Atkinson. Sailors’ Series lectures begin at 6:30 pm with a reception at 6 pm. Individual lecture tickets can be purchased for $15 for Whaling Museum members and $20 for non-members. Details and information about how to purchase tickets are at or 508-997-0046. The Whaling Museum is located at 18 Johnny Cake Hill in New Bedford, Massachusetts.

In 2019, four Sailors’ Series lectures will be spread through the spring and summer. The opening presentation on March 21 will feature stories about the Abel-J, the research vessel that William Watkins journeyed on to gather his foundational recordings of marine mammal bioacoustics. Captain Bob Wallace, the vessel’s former captain, will talk about how the Abel-J was uniquely outfitted for research purposes to Watkins’ specifications, and will share stories of adventures at sea with researchers who are celebrated in the Museum’s newly expanded Whales Today exhibition.

A Sailors’ Series lecture on June 14 will focus on artist Norman Fortier, whose watercolors will be featured in a Whaling Museum exhibition opening on the same date. A lecture on July 18 will be related to wind and coincides with the city-wide “Summer Winds” celebration as well as the Museum’s exhibition “De Wind is Op: Dutch Maritime Paintings of the Golden Age.” The final Sailors’ Series lecture on September 26 will focus on the craft of making Azorean whaleboats.

Media Contact/High-resolution images: 
Tina Malott
Director of Marketing and Public Relations
New Bedford Whaling Museum

photo of Abel J

March 21 – “The Research Vessel Abel-J: Her Concept, Design, and Tales of Voyages Toward the Ends of the Earth”

Speaker: Captain Bob Wallace


About the New Bedford Whaling Museum
The New Bedford Whaling Museum is the world's most comprehensive museum devoted to the global story of human interaction with whales in the world’s oceans, and the history and culture of the SouthCoast region. The cornerstone of New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park, the Museum is located at 18 Johnny Cake Hill in the heart of the city's historic downtown. Museum hours: January through March, Tuesday – Saturday, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.; April through December, daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Museum is open until 8 p.m. every second Thursday of the month. Closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day.  Admission is free for Museum members and children ages three and under; adults $17, seniors (65+) $15, students (19+) $10, child and youth $7. For more information, visit