By: ABI HOGLUND
Every fall groups of whales begin their 6,800 mile trip south. Traveling night and day, the whales travel about 75 miles per day at 5 mph. This trip is believed to be the longest annual migration of any mammal.
Unfortunately, due to the 20th century whaling industry, the population of some whales was down to only around 450 by the 1950s, protections were put in place in the 1960s, the International Whaling Commission issued safeguards for the struggling population. The new study reports that the population has recovered to about 90% since then.
Whale watching started in the 1950s in the US and is now done in 120 countries, but the size of the industry has concerns about the impact on the whales. The International Whaling Commission (IWC) created a series of measures to control badly managed whale watching. Does it harm the mammals? Whale watching has proven to have some impact on their ability to feed, rest, and rear their young. Boats have also collided with the whales putting many at risk not just the whales. Some problems are:
- Whale watching in boats disturbs whales
- This can have an impact on the way they behave, including feeding and raising their young
- A change in behaviour can impact on their wellbeing
- Pollution they consume or it gets stuck to them, either way it’s not good for their health
There shouldn’t be a full ban on whale watching, it’s a great experience for the whole family but people just need to pick and choose trips carefully. It’s also a good sign if a trip has an onboard naturalist to provide educational facts about the whales and the environment. Though whale watching doesn’t have to be done on a boat it can easily be done from land.