Responsible Whale Watching: Best Practices [Guide 2018]

The responsible whale watching is beneficial both for humans and for these huge cetaceans.

Since its introduction to the tourist market in the 50s, the whale watching has grown enormously. For this reason, various institutions have worked hard in the creation, standardization and promotion of best approximation practices.

Did you know that whales are very susceptible to sounds?

whale watching panamaWhales have excellent hearing, in fact they use sound to communicate. It is known that their long and elaborate songs can last up to 20 minutes and repeat for hours.

Although it has not yet been proven, it is speculated that whales like dolphins, killer whales and bats use echolocation (biological sonar) to navigate.

What are the consequences of not practicing responsible whale watching?

  1. Impact on reproductive success.
  2. Massive and permanent displacements of areas where they have been disturbed.
  3. Stress and fatigue caused by fatigue.
  4. Decrease in socialization behaviors and fear of boats.
  5. Injuries caused by the irresponsible approach of the boats.

What are the best practices when booking a whale watching tour?

  1. Avoid making loud sounds
  2. Bring binoculars, caps, sunscreen and sunglasses.
  3. Never throw anything into the water

What are the best practices that every captain should know?

  1. The boat must not, for any reason, block the navigation course of the whales when approaching or during the course.
  2. In a first approach, the boat must remain at least 300 meters away for at least 15 minutes. At this time the captain or crew must identify if there are calves and their mothers in the group. Humpback whales usually surface every 7 to 15 minutes to breathe.
  3. In case of sighting adult whales only, the boat can approach no more than 100 meters at 4 knots maximum.
  4. In case of watching whales and their mothers, the boat must remain in the minimum range of 300 meters minimum.
  5. If the boat accidentally passes the minimum range, it may fall back to no more than 4 knots.
  6. If a whale unexpectedly approaches the boat, it should not make sudden changes until the whale manages to pass. In this case the propellers must be stopped.
  7. At the moment of finishing the tour, the boat should try to sail at no more than 4 knots until there is a minimum of 400 meters away with the whales.

Whale Watching Tours in Panama

From $160 per person