Whale watching is not just about knowing where and when to go. It’s also about respecting these gentle giants and their space. Keep whales and their habitat safe by remembering ocean etiquette and following the guidelines below.
Keep a safe distance
Use binoculars and long lenses for cameras to get good views versus getting too close to animals. If whales approach you or you find yourself too close to them, slow down and place boat engines in neutral. If one whale is present, others could be nearby as well. Keep in mind, some whales dive as much as 20 minutes or more in search of food before resurfacing.
Never chase or harass whales
When viewing from a boat, it’s safest to move parallel to swimming animals and avoid a head-on or from behind approach. Never surround an animal, trap it between a vessel and shore, or block an escape route. And never come between a mother and young or between animals to separate an individual from a group. If you find yourself near animals in a non-motorized vessel, make noise periodically to let animals know of your presence and to avoid surprise.
Are other boaters nearby as well? Coordinate your viewing efforts via radio to keep everyone within view and at a safe distance. If you’re part of a tour, be sure to speak up if the tour operator disturbs wildlife or impacts sensitive habitat.
Leave with wonderful memories as well as your trash
Our trash is a huge threat to marine wildlife. Be sure to pack your items securely when out on a boat or at the beach. If you see litter, you can help out by picking it up and disposing of it properly.
Now that you know your etiquette, be sure to LEARN a thing or two about whales before you head out on your adventure.