From humpbacks off the New England coast to orcas in the waters of the Pacific Northwest, late summer is a great time to appreciate cetaceans outside of captivity. But there's a catch - if done poorly, whale-watching poses a risk to all mammals involved.
As a study from the International Whaling Commission (IWC) shows, whale-watching ships most frequently report injuring whales out of all boat types, with 32 collisions between 1885 and October 2010. Over the same period, there were 538 collisions, and 10 boats reported colliding with killer whales. (A caveat: these data are biased toward the vessels inclined to report collisions - and shouldn't be taken as the full extent of the problem, which the IWC has found difficult to estimate.)
It's not just collisions, however, that are a concern - the noise of a speeding boat can be problematic, too. Although the Vancouver Aquarium has come under fire for its captive belugas, its whale-watching coordinator, Tessa Danelesko, shared some good advice about observing wild whales. Danelesko tells the Coast Reporter: