Hello everyone and welcome to Whale Watching Wisely!
Like millions of people around the world, we are passionate about whales and their mysterious lives. We love nothing more than spending a day on the water, watching whales and dolphins feed, leap and maybe even interact with us. However, whales may not quite see it this way- instead, evidence exists that whale watching vessels can disrupt whale behaviour and may even be perceived as a predatory threat.
Therefore, we set up Whale Watching Wisely: a collaborative project aimed at minimising the negative impacts of the whale watching industry on whale and dolphin populations. We believe that it is possible to maintain a profitable whale watching industry, providing life-changing encounters, whilst allowing healthy and happy whale populations to thrive. Specifically, we have the following goals:
- Deduce the behavioural, bio-energetic and physiological effects of whale watching encounters on whales. From this, we can infer population-level impacts. We will discuss our research methods throughout the season.
- From these results, we intend to construct a conservation plan, for example as whale watching guidelines or a proposed marine protected area. We hope to involve local residents and tour operators in this process.
We will focus our efforts on the whales of Skjálfandi Bay, Iceland: an important feeding ground for various whale species and an area subject to intense, boat-based whale watching. The project will start with the 2018 field season, which will last from May to September.
Before our field season begins, I want to make clear that we are supporters of whale watching. As an industry, it has massive potential to educate the public, promote behavioural change towards conservation and ensure that protection of our marine life represents a priority for business and government alike. However, there is also evidence of potential negative impacts on whale behaviour and populations. We cannot yet say whether these impacts exist in Skjálfandi Bay, but we aim to use unbiased, scientific research to find out. At the end of the day, a healthy whale watching industry requires a healthy whale population.
Throughout the project, we will share our fieldwork stories, breakthroughs, trials and tribulations. We will also discuss the ways in which humans may harm marine mammals, and the steps we can take in our daily lives to reduce this harm. So, if you want to follow our adventures and learn more about whales generally, keep reading this blog! If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to email firstname.lastname@example.org or comment on the website.