In the last couple of years, we’ve seen an increase in what is considered to be the tourism of the future – green, or ecotourism. Its sudden spike in popularity came as a product of years of human negligence towards our environment and the creatures that share this world with us. While ecotourism has many goals and pathways to reach these goals, the two most obvious reasons stand out quite clearly: the education of the tourists and funds for the local communities. So how does whale watching fit the bill and do the animals themselves profit? Or is it yet another get-rich-quick scheme for anyone owning a boat?
Is Whale Watching Sustainable?
It is a question that makes an appearance more often than not. Ecotourism is all about sustainability and recognizing the tourist attractions that have the lowest impact on the world around us while being profitable enough to keep it going. The thing about whales is that there’s a long history of them being more profitable as a commodity rather than being kept alive as a fellow, intelligent creatures that they are. It might take a bit more convincing for some people, but the factual truth is that whale watching can indeed be quite sustainable. Before discussing this in greater detail, some real, negative sides of whale watching must be pointed out.
Dangers of Whale Watching
As is the case with most other things in life, there’s always a dark side to everything, no matter how noble the cause, just as every coin boasts both head and tails. When it comes to whale watching, this darkness stems mostly from human greed and our inability, or at least extreme difficulty, in handling something with just a pinch of moderation.
The lucrative nature of whale watching has attracted many a sailor and prompted them to get in on this slice of eco cake. Some of them operate as legitimate tour agencies, but most of them don’t. Those who operate under the radar so to speak, run at least ten whale watching tours a day. Not only does the constant rattling and raving of boat engines disrupt the whales’ ability to communicate over long distances but recent studies have also shown that they decrease their ability to rear the young. Moreover, the abundance of boats disables the whales from feeding at what would otherwise be a buffet of fish. Ultimately, the overwhelming number of boats can more often than not lead to a deadly collision with a whale, killing it instantly.
While these dangers do pose a real threat to the gentle giants of the sea, there’s no alternative. Going back to hunting the whales is out of the question. Luckily, International Whaling Commission, or IWS for short, is doing their best in their attempts to preserve this majestic creature. They’ve proven that, with more stern regulations on how many whale watching tours per day are allowed, these animals can indeed be well protected. With quieter boats and harsher punishments for those breaking the regulations, whale watching is the way of the future. Which brings us to the topic at hand! Whale watching supports ecotourism by rewarding the local populace for avoiding activities such as fishing and whaling. Instead, they take small groups of tourists out into the open sea and teach them about how harmful we’ve been and the hazards of plastic and chemical pollution. This way, we’re discouraging activities that put whales in harm’s way and promote a healthy and humane view of the world around us. This is the very heart and soul beneath the idea of ecotourism, and whale watching is just another way of supporting life. Another amazing byproduct of these tours is decreased interest in aquariums and water tanks. No living creature should ever be forced to live in such confines. So, no matter where you’re planning on going whale watching, whether it be Norway, Iceland, Scotland, USA or even Antarctica, be certain that you’re doing the right thing. Whale watching is fighting for life. Whether we’re driven by guilt, or by the purest, most honest wish for improvement does not matter, so long as we make the change happen.