In India, the dolphin-watching industry currently focuses on two species: humpback dolphins, and Irrawaddy dolphins. There are also small scale tour operators offering opportunities to view Ganges River dolphins. Dolphin watching, where it occurs, tends to be fairly organic and home grown – with fishermen opportunistically adapting their vessels to take tourists out to see the dolphins.
Target species, peak times of year and locations:
Humpback dolphin watching takes place in several locations along the west coast of India, as well as to a limited extent along the Vishakpatnam coast on the east coast and in the Sundarbans Tiger Reserve in West Bengal coast. Irrawaddy dolphin watching is limited to Chilika lagoon, in the State of Odisha, where Irrawaddy dolphins are the focus of a dolphin watching industry involving over 900 vessels inside the lagoon. The table below gives an overview of the locations where dolphin watching occurs in India. Note that the dolphins are generally present year-round, but that dolphin watching does not take place during the monsoon months between June and September each year. Endangered Arabian Sea humpback whales1 are also present off the west coast of India, and their song has been detected by divers and researchers off the coasts of Maharashta and Goa2,3. However, their distribution and (seasonal) presence is not yet well enough understood to become the focus of regular whale watching operations. Similarly, Bryde’s and blue whales are known to occur off of India’s coastlines, but are not the focus of any tourism operations.