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ETHICAL WHALE WATCHING IN CANADA
February 27, 2023

ETHICAL WHALE WATCHING IN CANADA

Prince of Whales

Whale watching is our passion, as we love to allow guests from all over the world to observe and learn about these majestic creatures in their natural habitat. While it can be a thrilling and educational experience, it is important to make sure that it is done in an ethical and respectful manner. In Canada and BC, there are regulations in place to ensure the safety and welfare of whales, as well as to protect the integrity of the marine environment. We follow these practices and regulations religiously, as nothing is more important to us than the conservation of all marine life. Let’s get into ethical whale watching!

WHAT IS ETHICAL WHALE WATCHING? 

We follow some guidelines that allow us to watch wildlife without harming whales and the environment. Here are a just few key considerations that we follow when on the water:

  • Keep a safe distance: To minimize the impact on the whales, it is important to maintain a respectful distance. In Canada, there are guidelines in place that outline the minimum distance that boats must keep from whales, and some are outlined below. 
  • Follow the regulations: It is important to follow all local laws and regulations related to whale watching, including those related to vessel speeds and noise levels.
  • Avoid disturbing the whales: We try to minimize the impact of your presence on the whales. This may include avoiding loud noises or sudden movements, and not approaching the whales from behind or from the side.
  • Respect the whales’ natural habitat: Whale watching should not disrupt the whales’ natural environment or habitat. This includes not throwing trash or litter into the water, and not disturbing sensitive habitats.

WHAT IS UNETHICAL WHALE WATCHING?

Unethical whale watching can have serious consequences for the whales and the ecosystem. It can disrupt their natural behaviors and migration patterns, causing stress and potentially leading to injury or death. It can also harm the marine environment by disturbing sensitive habitats and contributing to pollution. This can include activities such as:

  • Approaching whales too closely or from the wrong direction: Whales need a certain amount of space to feel safe and comfortable, and approaching them too closely can cause stress and disrupt their natural behaviors.
  • Making loud noises or sudden movements: Whales have sensitive hearing and can be easily distressed by loud noises or sudden movements of vessels.
  • Chasing whales or trying to touch them: Whales should never be chased or touched, as it can cause stress and potentially lead to injury.
  • Disrupting sensitive habitats: Whales rely on certain habitats, such kelp forests, for food and shelter. Disturbing these habitats can have serious consequences for the whales and the ecosystem.
  • Polluting the water: Trash and other pollutants can harm whales and their environment, so it is important to dispose of waste responsibly and avoid throwing litter into the water.
A Humpback’s fluke likely injured by a vessel strike

WHALE WATCHING REGULATIONS IN BC 

In British Columbia (BC), there are several regulations in place to ensure the safety and welfare of whales, as well as to protect the integrity of the marine environment. These regulations apply to all forms of whale watching, including boat tours, kayak tours, and other activities. Some of the key regulations in BC include:

  • Minimum approach distances: Boats are required to maintain a minimum distance from whales, depending on the species and the specific circumstances. For example, boats must maintain a minimum distance of 200 meters from killer whales (orcas) and 100 meters from humpback whales. The 200-metre rule also applies to all other whale species, including dolphins and porpoises.
  • Speed limits: Boats are required to operate at a slow speed when approaching a safe distance with whales, to minimize the impact of their wake and noise on the whales.
  • Noise limits: Boats are required to minimize noise levels by turning off motors when near whales, to avoid disturbing them.
  • Prohibited activities: Certain activities, such as chasing, harassing, or touching whales, are strictly prohibited.

If you are looking for more information on ethical whale watching, the Pacific Whale Watching Association has a wealth of resources on the conservation of these incredible animals. Read more about our conservation efforts here. Feel free to reach out to us to learn more, we love talking about protecting whales!

Sea you soon!

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