We all like to see wildlife close … but the welfare of the wildlife ALWAYS comes first.
I have been asked on several occasions if I will organise a boat trip to see the Humpback Whale. Despite holding a Sea Watch Foundation boat operators certificate I have not done so. The problem I have is that when others see one boat going out they think they have a free reign to do so too perhaps with no training and no regard for the welfare of the whale.
I was watching the Humpback Whale today from the dunes at Horsey and Sea Palling. It was being followed by a zodiac with five or six people on board. The recommended distance for viewing cetaceans at sea is a minimum of 100m and the recommended amount of time with any one animal is 15 minutes. Obviously viewing from the dunes 1 to 2 km from the whale distances between objects can be foreshortened somewhat but I have a feeling that the zodiac was ‘chasing’ the whale and it was under stress. This year and last year up until today I have seen the Whale ‘spyhop ‘ twice. This afternoon I saw it raise its head out of the water and eyeball its observers five times. Others saw an increase in breathing rate – I didn’t – signs of stress perhaps? The zodiac followed the whale for at least two hours. Far, far too long.
I hung around until the skipper came ashore with his passengers and had a quiet word in his shell-like. After explaining who I was and the marine code of conduct he listened carefully while I explained he had been with the animal for too long and maybe too close. I gave him a couple of my cards and explained if he wanted me to send him a copy of the code of conduct all he had to do was send me an email.
The Sea Watch Foundation site has a code of conduct for approaching Cetaceans
Cetaceans are protected by law. If I see any inappropriate behaviour around the Humpback I WILL instigate the full use of that law.
We all like to see wildlife close … but the welfare of the wildlife ALWAYS comes first. The way to do it is to let the wildlife come to you!