Whale watching, the commercial observation of whales and dolphins in their natural habitat, has been grown significantly during the past couple of decades and is described today as a billion dollar industry.
Besides the advantages of this tourism branch such as providing a safe income for fishing communities and the contribution to species conservation, whale watching can be also seen as an alternative source of income for whaling nations, only hunted by photographers and not with a harpoon, which is, unfortunately, still practiced in Norway.
However, commercial whale watching can also imply negative impacts such as changes in behavioural patterns or even emigration of whales. Regulations showing best practice approaches towards whales in their natural habitat are critical management tools in order to minimize possible impacts.
Our focus is therefore to introduce and monitor new approaches to ensure a ‚soft‘ whale watching experience- for people and whales alike.
WHALE WATCHING NORWAY
There are no governmental regulations when it comes to whale watching in Norway and we have to appeal to all people going out to be careful and slowly approach the animals not to make too much noise with the boat and stress the animals by their appearance.
Too often do we see both private boats and commercial boats approaching the whales with great speed and starting their engines again and again to follow the whales and be closer, sometimes for hours!
Whales need a quite sea to communicate with each other, to find their way and orient in the dark ocean and very importantly to find and hunt their food!
This is an example of how you sound when you are with Orcas hunting herring and you start your motor and start driving:
All we can do is to educate people, play the sounds to them and hopefully that will make them understand and behave in a more responsible way! Help us and spread this sound file and information…
And we made guidelines, which we have developed in 2007 in cooperation with the WWF, however those guidelines are outdated with the current “wild-west” situation of whale watching in Norway and removed them. There are too many whale watching operators and too many people in the water with the Orcas and Humpback whales in the winter and we oppose such unregulated activity, in particular the swimming with Orca operations!
But here are some small very easy to use guidelines:
Visit Tromsø have created guidelines: Whale Watching Guidelines for the winter in Tromsø
A feasibility study of Lofoten as whale watching destination that we have conducted in 2013 in collaboration with the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), you can download and read our report here: WW_Feasibility_Survey_Report_Lofoten_2013-12_26