Cynde McInnis grew up in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Oddly enough, although surrounded by farms, she fell in love with whales at the age of eight. In 1994, she graduated from Dartmouth College with a degree in Psychology, focusing on learning and development. In August 1994, she interned with Ocean Alliance and Cape Ann Whale Watch of Gloucester, MA. Told she would eat, sleep and think whales, she thought, “What could be better?”
This three-month internship turned into a career, and for the past 23 years, she has developed and led Cape Ann Whale Watch’s Field Research and Marine Education Internship, training over 75 interns and numerous volunteers in data collection techniques and presentation of educational programs aboard whale watch boats. She has led around 2000 whale watch trips and taught tens of thousands of people about whales and the threats they face in our oceans today.
In 2002, she completed a master’s degree from Lesley University, in Interdisciplinary Studies, creating her own program of study focusing on whale watch education. For her thesis, she developed a curriculum for whale watch trips; to cultivate respect for our oceans, to educate about their environmental threats and to inspire people to make a commitment towards their protection.
While working for Ocean Alliance, Cynde participated in the Voyage of the Odyssey, a five-year global expedition designed to gather comprehensive research on the health of the worlds' oceans and the toxicity of whales. By gathering and analyzing blubber and skin samples from sperm whales, Ocean alliance was the first organization to document toxic levels of DDT, heavy metals, flame-retardants and PCB's in sperm whales all over the world.
Cynde has also coordinated and participated in teacher training programs sponsored by the University of Georgia and The Museum Institute for Teaching Science, MITS. She has led camps for children in the Gloucester area and teaches at Maritime Gloucester. She was the education chair for the American Cetacean Society for two years and Vice-President of Cetacean Society International for two years.
Currently, Cynde is very involved with whale conservation from many angles. She works as Education Director at Cape Ann Whale Watch, which is a member of the World Cetacean Alliance-- a world wide non-profit made up of individuals, non-profits and whale watch companies, all working together for whales and dolphins. Cynde is the secretary of the Education working group as well as a member of the Responsible Whale Watching working group. The most recent addition to her list of activities is adjunct professor at Salem State University! There she teaches Environmental Interpretation as well as co-teaches a freshman seminar on, you guessed it--whales!