Although there is no "whale central" to call for a directory of whale-watch tours in any given area, it is not difficult to find out where to set out to sea in search of whales.
Once you have decided which coast you are headed for, call or write to state tourism offices for free brochures and booklets about the area. Chambers of commerce and tourism bureaus in coastal towns know exactly who is running whale-watch tours, and usually they can send information or tell how to reach individual tour operators.
If you fly to a destination, check the information booth in the airport for pamphlets on whale-watch trips. If you aren't passing through the airport, ask at the front desk of your hotel or motel. If you're driving through a small town and have a sudden urge to see whales, check the telephone directory.
If you are interested in an extended trip, or you want to go whale-watching somewhere other than North America, call or write to the following tour operators.
*America Cetacean Society Expeditions, P.O. Box 2639, San Pedro, Calif. 90731; telephone (213) 548-6279.
*Baja Expeditions, 2625 Garnet Ave., San Diego, Calif. 92109; (619) 581-3311.
*Biological Journeys, 1696 Ocean Drive, McKinleyville, Calif. 95521; (800) 548-7555 or (707) 839-0178.
*Earthwatch, 680 Mount Auburn St., Box 403N, Watertown, Mass. 02172; (617) 926-8200.
*Nature Expeditions International, 474 Willamette, P.O. Box 11496, Eugene, Ore. 97440; (503) 484-6529.
*Oceanic Society Expeditions, Fort Mason Center, Building E, San Francisco, Calif. 94123; (415) 441-1106.
*Pacific SeaFari Tours, 2803 Emerson St., San Diego, Calif. 92106; (619) 226-8224 (can call collect).
*Seafarers Expeditions, P.O. Box 691, Bangor, Maine 04402-0123; (207) 942-7942.
*Sea Quest Expeditions/Zoetic Research, P.O. Box 2424U, Friday Harbor, Wash. 98250; (206) 378-5767.
*Sea Safaris: International Oceanographic Foundation, 4600 Rickenbacker Causeway, Miami, Fla. 33149; (305) 361-4697.
*Smithsonian Institution, Study Tours and Seminars, 1100 Jefferson Drive S.W., Washington, D.C. 20560.
*Thompson Voyages, P.O. Box 217, Laguna Beach, Calif. 92652; (714) 497-1055.