March 29, 2014

Observing Whales and Dolphins

Whale watching at Francisco Coloane Marine Park.
© Feel Patagonia

By Marcela Torres

As the summer season approaches, the fascination for whales and dolphins attracts many tourists in search for a close encounter with this charismatic fauna. The activity has benefits and risks, however, and it is necessary to take some precautions to enjoy it responsibly.

Throughout Chile there are 18 dolphin species. The Chilean Dolphin (Cephalorhynchus eutropia) is found in shallow coastal waters, while the Bottle-Nosed Dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) is one of the most popular and easiest to see, particularly in the surroundings of the Damas and Choros islands in the North.

Whales can also be seen, mainly in southern Chile, where you can find Rorquals, Southern Right Whales, Sperm Whales and Humpback Whales (Megaptera novaeangliae). This species, one of the most fascinating, has an important feeding site in the waters surrounding the Francisco Coloane Marine Park, in southern Chile.

To ensure that a cetacean observation experience is fun and safe both for the animals and tourists, the following measures need to be in place:
  • Keep a minimum distance of 100 meters (328 feet) from the animal that is closest to the boat
  • The speed of boats while approaching and leaving the area should be constant and not exceed 4 knots
  • The time of observation for each boat should not be more than 30 minutes
  • Don’t ask your guide to chase the dolphins or whales and don’t try to touch them
  • When the observation is over, the departure from the site should be carried out slowly and in the opposite direction of the movement of the whales or dolphins
It is important to keep in mind that dolphins and whales at sea are wild animals and we should not modify their way of life or behavior. That’s why we need to avoid stroking them or establishing any sort of unnatural contact that may contribute to modifying their behavioral patterns, such as getting used to close interactions with humans.

If we follow these guidelines, we will probably live an unforgettable responsible tourism experience.

This entry was originally posted by the author on October 30, 2011.

No comments:

Post a Comment