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Guide to Safely Viewing Whales in the Wild

By Edited Nov 28, 2015 2 2

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Everyone loves whales, but are we loving them too much?

There’s no doubt that whale watching is one of the most exciting, exhilarating experiences around. But in all our excitement, it’s easy to get caught up in the moment and forget that our amazing experience may not be so amazing for the whales. Are we too close? Are we moving too quickly? Do our activities cause unnecessary stress, or even death?

These whale watching guidelines apply to all species of whales and will help you have a happy, healthy whale watching experience.

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Be aware

Always be on the lookout for wildlife, especially if you’re in an area of of known or suspected marine activity. Some species of whales can reach speeds of up to 48 km/h (30 mph), making it tough to predict where they’ll turn up next!

Slow down

Reduce your speed to less than 7 knots when within 400 metres/yards of the nearest whale.

Keep your distance

Never get closer than 100 metres/yards to any whale. If you accidentally find yourself closer (it happens), back off slowly. And remember: Never touch, swim or feed whales or other wildlife!

Keep a clear path

If you find yourself in the path of whales, cautiously move out of the way. If the whales are traveling close to shore, always stay on their offshore side. As well, only approach whales from the side—never from the front or behind—and always travel in a direction parallel to the direction of the whales.

Limit your viewing time

Don’t hang around the whales forever. Limit your time to 30 minutes, max.

Why do we need these guidelines?

Well, we live in a fragile world. Global climate change, pollution—everything we consume and produce has a direct effect on the health of our oceans. Plus, ocean traffic is steadily rising, which places further stress on all levels of the marine ecosystem.

These rules and guidelines are in place to help minimize our impact, and to educate you, help you set an example for others, and make sure that whales are around for generations to come!

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Sep 6, 2012 10:00am
Hi--Great article--sea, lake and river life is all so fascinating and your writing brings that fascination to the surface. 2 big thumbs up for U
Sep 6, 2012 6:05pm
Whales are beautiful creatures in a world of their own. This is an informative article with some good guidelines for people to follow, and a reminder that we, as humans, do not need to intrude on their private space and harm their well-being. Thumbs up, simon!
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