Responsible Whale Watching

I have been fortunate enough to go on some pretty great whale watches.  I’ve seen Humpback whales off Cape Cod, MA and Monterey, CA.  I’ve see Gray whales off Dana Point, CA, and Orcas off the San Juan Islands in Washington state.  However, I always do my best to pick a whale watching company that is responsible. By that I mean they don’t harass the whales by getting too close and disturbing their natural behavior.  In this video my friend Katherine takes me on a whale watch in Monterey and talks about how to select a good whale watch company.

I know it was hard to hear the last two minutes of that due to wind.  I have no audio technician skills!   So here is a summary of what Katherine was saying.  When choosing a whale watch company, look for one that: 1. Has a large boat.  That will make for a more comfortable ride and less chance of sea sickness. 2. Has minimum age requirements.  Generally these whale watches are best for kids over the age of 3. 3. Employs naturalists on board.  These people are the ones who will explain all of the animals and behaviors you are seeing. The naturalists will always have the animals’ best interest at heart and don’t want to see boats harassing or disturbing the animals. 4. Allows researchers or research equipment on board.  Sometimes scientists will piggy back onto the whale watch cruises to either observe or get underwater recordings of the marine mammals.

Here are the whale watch companies that I have sailed with and I found to be responsible.  In Monterey I go with Princess Whale Watching. If you ever go on this cruise maybe you’ll see my friend Katherine from the video!  For the San Juan Islands Orca watching I went with Western Prince Whale and Wildlife Tours.  What I liked most about them is that they will report other  whale watch companies if they see them harassing or getting too close to the whales.  In Boston I go with Boston Harbor Cruises which will take you to see the  whales off Cape Cod.  It leaves right from the New England Aquarium and has a naturalist from the aquarium on board.  From Dana Point I sailed with the Ocean Institute which is a marine educational institution.

If you haven’t been on a whale watch before I hope that you go.  I would make it a priority to see wild orcas while you still have the chance.  There are less than 90 southern resident killer whales off Washington state.  I’d go into that more, but I think that’s a topic for another blog.

Have you been out with other reputable whale watch cruises? If so, please share them with me!

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