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Swimming with dolphins and whales is a bucket-list opportunity for many. Seeing these incredible creatures in their natural habitat is truly an awe-inspiring experience. However, with any marine-life encounter, it is important for us humans to act responsibly and safely. If we’re not careful, human encounters with marine life can have a negative impact on ocean life.
Planning a trip out to sea? It is your responsibility to ensure that your presence doesn’t harm the lives of precious marine mammals. Here’s how to keep marine mammals safe during your encounter:
Be Respectful of their Habitat
When you visit the ocean, you are entering the home of vulnerable marine life. It is crucial that you behave responsibly and treat their natural habitat with the utmost respect. If you don’t follow the proper safety precautions, you could cause harm and disturbance to the lives of marine animals. The animals may also see you as a threat, which could put you in danger.
Do not pollute the area. Any rubbish thrown into the ocean will seriously impact the well-being of marine life. It’s essential that we all do our part to keep the ocean a clean, peaceful place for all marine life. You can still have a good time at sea without polluting the environment. Treat the ocean as if you’re visiting someone else’s home.
Keep a Safe Distance
If you encounter a marine mammal while boating, there are various safety rules you should follow. For example, if your boat is within 300 metres of a whale, you are in the caution zone. This means you need to take extra care and watch your boat speed closely. Any sudden changes in speed or direction could frighten marine animals and cause them stress. If the animals do display any signs of distress, you should leave the caution zone immediately.
When you are near the marine animals, try not to make any loud noises that could disturb marine life. Do not harass, feed or attempt to touch the animals. If you ever see anybody else displaying this type of behaviour, do not hesitate to speak up.
Swimming with dolphins and whales is not permitted unless you are with a licenced tour provider. If you happen to encounter a dolphin or whale in the open ocean, you should keep a safe distance of at least 30 metres (unless they approach you). This will give the animals enough space to move away from you safely if needed. Remember, these wild animals may become aggressive if you get too close.
Choose Responsible Tour Operators
If you want the amazing opportunity to swim with dolphins or whales, you must do it through an official tour. Responsible tour operators have regulations in place to protect marine life. They will ensure your presence has little impact on the environment and the animals that live there. These tours will allow you to get up close to friendly dolphins without causing disturbance to their habitat. Your tour guides will offer all the guidance you need to have a safe marine-encounter.
If you’re looking for the best area to have a safe marine-life encounter, it is important to take note of the migratory patterns of these creatures. During July and October, you’ll find a high number of whales returning to Tongan waters. So, if you’re planning to stay in Tonga, it’s important to book licenced whale tour operators that will ensure the safety of these animals. You’ll be guaranteed to see a whale at this time of year and have an unforgettable marine encounter. For a more predictable whale watching experience, you can even head to Kaikoura, New Zealand. Here different species of whales are spotted year round along with other wondrous creatures. Hawaii is also a great option to go dolphin spotting year round.
Everyone should swim with marine mammals at least once in their lifetime. There’s no other experience quite like it. Wherever the experience, you must always take extra precautions to ensure these marine animals are encountered safely!
I’m Johanna, a freelance writer, nature and animal lover from the windy city of Wellington, New Zealand. I’m also passionate about sustainable living and hope to inspire and encourage others to do the same. Visit my personal blog, Musings of Johanna, to get in touch!