whale watching

From: Pieter Arend Folkens (animalbytes@earthlink.net)
Date: Fri Feb 23 2001 - 12:02:30 EST


>I was wondering if you could tell me about whale populations in realtion
>to whale watchibg tours, and whether such tours result in reduced whale
>numbers. Or do they help contribute to the conservation of the mammal.

Dear Nicola:

There is no hard data that suggests whale watching has negatively impacted
whale populations. There was a story on the east coast a while back that
whale watching tours had forced whales out of an area they once frequented.
The hue and cry from certain sectors tried to shut down the whale watching
opperations, until it was pointed out that the food supply had shifted and
the whales simply moved to the food.

Whale watching boats may cause some harassment and interrupt some natural
behaviors, but the whales are not bunnies or butterflies. They are tough,
resilient critters.

A good example of how whale watching contributes to conservation is seen in
Mexico where the Mitsubishi salt works proposal was shut down largely due
to the popularity of the whale watching opportunities in San Ignacio
Lagoon.

Whale watching presents an opportunity for conservation. The link between
whale watching and conservation can only be made if the opperators and
their crew are motivated to use the opportunity to educate their passengers
with good information about the biology and conservation of marine mammals
and the health of the oceans in general.

Cheers,

Pieter Folkens

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