Tips for respectful Whale Watching is a must to get the genuine response from any cetacean, especially Humpback Mothers with calves as was displayed today when we arrived on scene in a very well known resting grounds for Humpbacks we found a jet boat with parasail attached screaming around in close proximity to numerous pods trying to rest, it is a disgraceful act to harass any wildlife and the people that operate in this type of fashion, not only break the law but also show a sign of who and what they are with no respect to the Whales whatsoever.
This type of behaviour is detrimental to the Whales and shows a complete lack of knowledge of how the Mothers haven’t consumed any food for close on 5 months and require the stored energy to produce milk for the calf, when the Mother is having to burn energy evading jet boats parasailing all around them this means less energy for milk production and less rest for the Humpbacks. Once the harassing parasail vessel left the area the Humpbacks settled and started long downtimes to complete the rest they were looking for prior to the disgraceful interruption and predatory actions of the other vessel.
Moving away from the area to allow these Humpback pods time to themselves we came across a mother and calf that were relaxed and showing just how intrigued they are with communicating with all in their environment. The calf started to breach and pec slap as they approached our vessel and the calf even spy hopped a few times to have a good look at the guests onboard to everyones delight. This example of whale watching shows that if you treat the Humpback Whales with respect they too are interested in you, this requires patience, discipline and the right equipment (vessels) to observe and not influence the cetaceans behaviour.
Some Tips for Respectful Whale Watching;
- Approach areas at slow speed, when Whales are sighted reduce speeds to 5 knots or less with no wash.
- Maintain a minimum of 300 meters for mother and calves and let them control the interaction if they choose to move toward you.
- Abide by the rules and regulations as seen in the diagram below.
- Do not move towards whales at high speed and then turn away at the last moment for any vessel.
- Do not use high engine revs or multiple gear changes, excessive gear changes unsettle whales and it is important to maintain minimal gear changes at all times.
- Where possible drift and stay out of gear all together while still maintaining correct distance and position of the vessel as displayed in the below diagram.
- Look for animal behaviour signs, tail slapping or peduncle lobbing toward your vessel is saying you are too close.
- Do not bang on the side of the vessel in attempts to attract the whales, it has the complete opposite affect.
- Treat Whales as you would meeting new friends, show them the respect as they do remember vessels sounds and do not forget if treated unkindly.
Our journey today started out of the Fremantle Harbour with a lovely interaction with our local pod of Bottlenose Dolphins which then led to a special interaction with the Humpback Whales in their resting grounds. All wildlife deserves respect or they will simply not visit that area again, we have seen this and documented it for many years in Western Australia and also the whale behaviour observed during our Queensland season showed noticeable signs of altered migration paths due to lack of respect from certain vessels.
Please respect our Whales wherever you are and should you see any parasailing, jet boating or harassing behaviour around Whales anywhere please report it to DBCA in WA on 08 9219 9840