Whale-watching

From: pulipal@netscape.net
Date: Tue Sep 24 2002 - 16:35:44 EDT

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    Thank You so much for answering my daughters e mail. I have a few
    questions.I love her enthusiasm about the ocean and her new found love for
    whales I was wondering if she is to young to go on a whale watching trip. I
    didn't know if there is an age limit. If not I would LOVE to take here. Do
    you recommend a place, time of year in the United States and a company.
    Her class is doing a huge project on the ocean and the wonderful creatures
    that live in it.Her and I have had so much fun with all of the information
    on your web site. Thank you so much!
    Sincerely,
    Mary Elizabeth

    ******************************************************
    Mary Elizabeth,

    I was happy to help Madeline, but I always try to encourage kids to come up with their own questions or answers whenever I can. I strongly believe that is an important part of such projects that teachers assign.

    There is usually not an age limit for whalewatching (though taking a baby wouldn't be too smart in my opinion). I'll be quite honest and say it will really help if she is tall enough to see over a boat rail, because otherwise she won't get as much out of the trip as she can. Every boat differs, but I personally don't think it's ever too early to see whales, especially at Madeline's age. What you typically do is locate a trip you're interested in and get the specifics, such as age limits, before you go there.

    I'm going to suggest the same task to you that I did to Madeline. Take a look thru the WhaleNet archives, because questions regarding whale-watching are often asked of the visiting scientist to the WhaleNet website, so there should be plenty of information there.

    Not knowing where you live, potentially makes my response a little difficult. I can tell you that there is really no whalewatching in the Gulf of Mexico, mainly b/c the Gulf of Mexico has a wide continental shelf and it takes about a day to get to deep water where the whales hang out. There is small scale dolphin watching off Texas and Florida. I personally like the East Coast (around Massachusetts) or West Coast (Monterey, California is good, as is Washington State, particularly around the San Juan Islands). It really depends on what type of whale you want to see for me to make a recommendation. Of course, there is always the Caribbean (maybe something you'd enjoy more? A trip to the Caribbean in winter?) for wintering humpback whales. The Caribbean also has the opportunity to swim with wild dolphins (spotted dolphins in the Bahamas), but I believe Madeline is too young for the latter. There is also the option of swimming with dolphins in captivity, which is popular in Hawaii and Florida. If you end up goin
    g the captive dolphin route and would like recommendations of good facilities where you will learn a lot as well as making sure that you are not having too negative an impact on the dolphins, I can give you a colleague's name and email and she can help you out.

    Good luck! I agree that it's great that Madeline is so interested in the ocean and its life. Have you considered a subscription to a wildlife magazine tailored for children? She might find that interesting as well.

    Dagmar

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