Due to the endangered status of whales, there have been a number of concerns raised regarding whale-watching activities.While commercial whale-watching cruise operators are aware of the guidelines for whale watching and normally follow them, a lot of private cruise operators are not familiar with them or choose to ignore them, and wind up disturbing these marine mammals and causing them grief.
Whale Watching Concerns
Even though one vessel is unlikely to disturb the whales even if it does come too close to them on rare occasions, repeated violations eventually lead to bigger problems and create major disturbances for the whales.When several vessels are close by, there is a lot of noise and this decreases the ability of whales to sense their prey, navigate, and communicate with their neighbors and their young.
In addition, the presence of the boats diverts the attention of the whales from important activities like feeding, foraging, breeding, and socializing.There are other threats as well, such as the spilling of gas, garbage, and other forms of pollution from vessels and their passengers, which have resulted in high toxin levels recently discovered in the blubber of whales in areas of heavy human traffic.The availability of prey also is limited by too much noise and activity as well.
What You Can Do?
Is all hope lost? No, by abiding by the guidelines recommended for the protection of whales, you can actually help decrease the negative impact of whale-watching activities on marine mammals.
If you’re cruising in a location known for whale activity, slow down and keep an eye out for signs of cetaceans so that you can keep your distance. Also, keep your garbage in the boat.The ocean may look endless, but it is becoming a dumping ground for far too much rubbish and toxic material.If you encounter other whale-watching vessels, assume there are whales nearby and give the area a wide berth.
If the location where you’re fishing is known for whale activity, watch carefully for signs of whales and other sea life.If you see the whales approaching while your fishing lines are out, you need to haul them in.Killer whales around Vancouver Island, BC, have learned there are fish on the lines and will snap them off.Unfortunately, they often snag the hooks on the line and ingest them as well as the fish, which is very dangerous to them.Draw in your fishing lines when you see the whales about and save them from harm.
Sailors and Kayakers
Although sailboat and kayaks move quietly through the water and are not as disturbing to whales as noisy powerboats, studies have shown that they also contribute to the disturbance problem and cause these mammals to change their behaviors, like their feeding patterns.Give all whales a wide berth or we may lose them from this area altogether.
Because whale watching is a wonderful activity, please follow sensible guidelines and help ensure that whales are viewed and enjoyed without inflicting danger on their very existence and risk to their well-being.
To find transportation options for reaching various whale-watching hotspots, check out our Vancouver Island travel page.
Republished under Creative Commons License from West Coast Aquatic Safaris, an acclaimed Bear Watching, Whale Watching, Hot Springs Cove Tour Co & Marine Charter Co in Tofino, BC on the famed west coast of Vancouver Island. Certificate of Excellence from Trip Advisor.