Located in the Caribbean, Dominica is an island nation surrounded by sheltered bays and deep underwater canyons. These features provide the perfect habitat for a range of cetacean species, including, most notably, sperm whales, which can be observed relatively close to shore. Commercial whale watching started in the early 1990s, and since then Dominica has become one of the world’s most highly promoted whale watching tourism destinations, drawing over 14,000 whale watching tourists per year as of 2008, and generating close to 2 million USD of tourism income1. Much of the country’s tourism is linked to cruise ships, with tour operators reporting in 2008 that cruise ship passengers made up between 50 and 90% of their customers1. Trips generally take place on boats accommodating between 20 and 80 passengers, and last between 2 and 4 hours.
Target species, peak times of year and locations:
Sperm whales, which are present year-round, are definitely the main attraction for whale and dolphin watching tours in Dominica, and are the reason the country continually features in the top-10 whale watching destinations of various websites and tourism publications. However, humpback whales are also present seasonally between November and April, and a number of dolphin species can also be observed year round. The most commonly observed species include pantropical spotted dolphins, Fraser’s dolphins, and common bottlenose dolphins. However, false killer whales, pygmy killer whales, dwarf and pygmy sperm whales, melon-headed whales and two different beaked whale species have also been observed during tours in recent years.