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The carbon footprint of whale watching trips is massive. Boats hammer the water, churning through thousands of litres of fuel. In some instances, trailers – used when a boat is launched from a beach, not a jetty – can tear up the beaches and the environment.
While this sounds dire, there are ways you can help to minimise the detrimental impact of a whale watching trip:
Choose responsible, registered operators. ‘Responsible’ operators are often scientists and see the trips less as a means for a fast buck, and more as a way of increasing your awareness and knowledge of both whales and the general environment. They provide interesting facts about the cetaceans (as whales are known in scientific speak), from fluke sizes to unique markings.Ask if the operator collects data for scientific use. For example, in St Lucia, South Africa, whale watching boats gather floating whale skin – that has shed – for DNA testing.Don’t expect a whale sighting, nor choose an operator who guarantees one. It’s a privilege, not a right. Be open-minded to learning about other ocean-based aspects – such as fish, birds, tides and winds.