Whale watching in the San Juan Islands is an experience you will not forget for the rest of your life. Whales, dolphins–including orcas–and other marine wildlife are some of the amazing creatures you may be lucky enough to witness while at sea. In fact, many people are so consumed by their first-ever whale sighting they break out in tears.
While this experience is truly thrilling and one-of-a-kind, one should act responsibly. So remember the do’s and don’ts of proper whale watching.
Do Some Research
Before heading out to sea, research the species you most likely will see in the region, according to the season. Whales migrate. To avoid waiting for nothing, make sure it is the migration season when you set out. Summer and Fall is the time for whale watching in the San Juan Islands.
By familiarizing yourself with the species, you’ll know what you’re seeing the moment they appear. Hand guides can provide information, but are distracting. You’d hate to miss something that you wouldn’t have if you’d researched prior to the trip.
Do Prepare Yourself Physically
Because you’ll be exposed to the sun and the ocean, you need to be physically ready. Dress in layers and pack clothes for cool weather; it’s 10-15 degrees cooler on the ocean than on land. Apply generous amounts of sunscreen and wear a hat to protect your skin from harmful ultraviolet rays.
If you’re prone to seasickness, don’t forget to take motion sickness medicine at least 30 minutes before your trip. Whale watching can take several hours, so you don’t want to miss the fun because of any unnecessary physical discomfort.
Don’t Harass the Mammals
If your whale boat crew are professionals, they will make sure to respectfully approach whales and other mammals. When feeling threatened, the fear felt by a whale can cause it undue stress and affect its health. It is illegal to crowd or chase the whales, so adjust your expectations and bring a nice pair of binoculars. It is not only a federal offense to approach them, but whales are larger and stronger than us, and we are invaders of their territory.
However whales, especially when they’re curious, can unexpectedly approach a boat. A trusted charter skipper knows all of this. Engines must be shut down immediately. A boat’s roaring engine threatens the mammal’s means of communication. Many a whale bears the markings of being hit by a propeller. The silence of a sailboat is an ideal way to commune with the whales.
Keeping all of these measures in mind will result in a successful San Juan Island whale watching adventure. Take as many pictures as you can and share the experience so that others may be educated about these amazing creatures.
The Dos and Don’ts of Watching Orcas, Dolphins and Whales, care2.com
A GUIDE TO WHALE WATCHING: THE DOS AND DON’TS, edreams.com