WDCS And Whale Watching
Why is WDCS so interested in whale watching? After all, its just an industry. Its an industry established - like any other - to make money. And, if anything, chasing whales around in a motley collection of boats probably does the whales harm. How can it possibly do them any good?
Well, first of all, does whale watching do the whales any harm? The short answer is that it probably does - if the area is overcrowded with boats or its done in an irresponsible way. And therefore, its natural for WDCS to want to encourage responsible whale watching which doesn't harass or injure the whales and which results in a minimum level of disturbance.Read our guide
on what to look for in a good whale watch.
But there is much more to it than that. Whales and dolphins can actually benefit from whale watching - albeit indirectly. Sadly, we can't guarantee to protect them from harpoons and drift nets, or promise never again to pollute their homes or catch too many fish. But whales and dolphins can benefit in other ways.
For example, we can use whale watching to drum up public support for their protection. Cetaceans, themselves, make terrific ambassadors for marine conservation - they fire people with enthusiasm to do something positive to help. So, WDCS is keen to encourage on-board educational commentaries which keep everyone well-informed and enthusiastic about caring for the marine environment and the wildlife that depends on it.
It is even possible to use whale-watching boats as platforms for research. There have been many studies on dead whales, but surprisingly little is known about live ones. Whale-watch operators in many parts of the world are carrying out an amazing number of valuable research projects. These are benefiting the whales, the whale watchers, the scientists and the whale-watch operators themselves.
Another benefit is that whale watching is quite simply, a valid counter-argument to whaling. Whale watching directly competes with whaling, as the two activities are incompatible. Whale watching means it is possible to make money from whales without having to kill them. This is good news for the whales, of course, but it is also good news for coastal communities involved in whale watching - because it means that whales that are watched - not hunted - provide a source of income for life.
Watching and spending time with cetaceans, wild and free in their natural environment, is also a much more fulfilling and educational alternative to seeing cetaceans performing tricks in exchange for dead fish in captivity.
WDCS campaigns against deliberate killing of whales and dolphins and also against taking cetaceans from the wild - or breeding them in captivity - for public display. Responsible whale and dolphin watching is a viable alternative to both.
So, in summary, WDCS is supportive of responsible, educational whale and dolphin watching, as it can benefit both the animals and local communities.WDCS has created a number of leading reports on the issue of whale watching
Read our reports
Sign up for our newsletter
Read our blogs