Whale watching has become one of the most popular activities in nature tourism. This began in the 1950s, happening in over 87 countries and is estimated to have more than $1 billion USD profit. Learn the benefits, effects and best practices in whale watching industry.
This business becomes a primary source of livelihood for people in different countries. In the Kingdom of Tonga, for example, the whale watching industry gives valuable income to its indigenous people, with an estimated USD $700,000 gross annual income for the Tongan national economy. These locals don’t only get advantages from the direct expenditure of the industry but they also benefit from the immediate results of tourism such as hotel industry and transport services.
Another perk of this industry is it helps raise awareness about issues concerning marine preservation and can provide more opportunity for scientific research, which will ultimately help conserve the lives of animals. The lifestyle of these coastal people have always been linked to the ocean and with further research, this will help find more sustainable ways to generate income from the sea. Marine mammal viewing can result in the preservation and socio-economic advantages both for the animals and the local communities if done properly.
It’s hard to exactly expound the effects of whale watching activities from boats, land, and air. But some studies reveal that boat traffic can change the behavior of humpback whales. However, these effects are only minor compared to other hazards like whaling, pollution, and climate change. Nevertheless, it can have a long-term effect no matter how minor it is. So, these are the suggested ways of whale watching that would help preserve these cetaceans.
The government and legislators will have a big role when it comes to policymaking. It is also important to train and educate tour operators. They should know how these marine mammals react to vessels so they would know the proper boat speed, proper distance to watch, etc. The government, on the other hand, would ensure compliance is met. Revoke the license of those operators who will breach the guidelines.
As tourists, it is also important to know we choose tour operators that are not only legit but also exhibit a good example in compliance.