There are several different platforms from which people can watch whales and dolphins, each with their own advantages, as well as potential impacts on the whales and dolphins being watched. Below is a summary of the different ways that you can watch whales and dolphins, as well as some tips on how to minimize the impact that your whale watching has.
Land-based whale watching: Land-based whale watching has the enormous advantage of having almost no impact on the whales and dolphins that are being watched. Many places around the world feature fantastic cliff-top or shore-based view-points where resident groups of coastal dolphins, porpoises or killer whales can be observed, or where migratory species like right, humpback, or gray whales pass close to the coast, offering magnificent views. Some countries advertise whale routes that tourists can follow, linking shore-based whale watching locations, such as the Cape Whale Route in South Africa. The Whale Trail on the West coast of the USA and Canada features a 1000km long network of shore-based viewing points that are featured on a website, soon to be linked with a smartphone App. These locations include signboards and information about the marine mammals that can be observed from each point. In the Netherlands, a shore-based view point includes a harbour porpoise “studio” where visitors can listen to live transmissions of the porpoises’ vocalizations, broadcast from an underwater listening station just offshore. Land-based whale watching is an optimal choice for those who suffer from sea-sickness, or want to be 100% certain that they will not contribute to the potentially negative impacts of vessel noise and vessel traffic around whales and dolphins.