Is Offshore Whale Watching a Threat, too?
The following letter just came in to The Pitchfork and I found it intriguing and counterintuitive enough to post. I would love to learn more about the problems in this seemingly benign industry.
An excellent response by Dr. Rose.
On another subject, I have concerns. The present backlash against SeaWorld and other international aquaria will lead to more people participating in whale watching tours to view wild whales. Whale watching is itself an incredibly problematic industry– whales are hounded from sunup to sunset, and are deprived of the right to feed, rest, socialize and breed. There is nothing normal or natural about this kind of interaction between whale watching vessels and orca whales.
The resident orcas of SW British Columbia and the NW United States are a critically endangered species. In BC, they are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, The Endangered Species Act and the Species at Risk Act, yet the Department of Fisheries and Oceans is chronically understaffed and ill-equipped to prosecute individuals and businesses who break these laws.
I just want to let people know that whale watching tours are not a reasonable alternative to places like Sea World. If you ARE looking for an alternative, please consider onshore whale watching. There is less of a guarantee that you will see whales, but when you do, I promise you it will be much more emotionally and intellectually fulfilling. An additional bonus is that you may see the whales from much closer-up (marine vessels are supposed to stay 100m from marine mammals). Please do the right thing for orcas. There are many places along the British Columbian and Washington Coast to view these animals humanely –and similarly, I’m certain there are many places across the globe where you can view them from onshore.