Posted by: sforshner | July 15, 2008

sustainable, whale-tourism gets profitable

When I was in elementary school, each week my class took a trip to the library to first, sit in a circle on an old carpet and listen to the librarian read a story while the girls formed a chain of braid-making that started with my long red hair and then, we could borrow a book.  

For some reason, I always chose a book about the ocean, and when I ran out of options after many weeks, I started over despite the librarian’s effort to get me to branch out. Whales were my favorite animal and whether it was reading about them or their world, I was content. I got whale stuffed animals for Christmas, I did my fourth grade animal report on them and my cousin took me to the New England Aquarium every year for my birthday.

It didn’t really go away when I became an adult. For our anniversary every year, Mike and I spend a weekend in Gloucester, MA. and when we have the money, we go on a whale watch. Last year, we didn’t, but we did go to The Whale Center of New England and saw some cool skeletons…

So now that you’ve got my dorky back story, you won’t be surprised to know that a recent Treehugger post jumped out at me enough to blog about it.

They highlighted a joint report by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), Global Ocean, and the Whales and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS), which charts the development whale-watching in eighteen Latin American countries. In the region there are almost a million tourists, some 780 operators and 64 species of whales, dolphins and porpoises. Worldwide, it is estimated that whale tourism brings in $1 billion a year.

The growth of whale-watching grew 4.7 times as much during the same 8-year period, from 1998 to 2006, compared to general tourism in Latin America. It is estimated that 886,000 people participated in whale watching tours in Latin America in 2006 and spent $278 million. A million tourists are expected this year.

That being said, an argument that in my opinion holds strong moral ground, is beginning to make sense from a profitability standpoint. 

Though another argument includes concerns that the growing number of whale-watching tour operations worldwide could disrupt whale migration routes and other behaviors, countries like Uruguay have responded to these concerns by launching certification programs that give operators, hotels and restaurants with good environmental practices a seal of approval.

So what about the rest of the world?

The NRDC is fighting to protect whales from the Navy’s deadly sonar system in Southern California and the campaign is headed to the U.S. Supreme Court. They even have a great editorial in the New York Times. You can help the cause here.



  1. Great post! The whale center in Gloucester looks great. There’s another one out on the cape too.

    If you’re looking for the model for sustainable whale watching, look no further than were your early interest in whales began. The New England Aquarium helped develop safe whale watch guidelines for the NMFS a decade ago. Here’s the principles they use for their whale watch vessel:

    Great blog!
    I’ll add it to my blogroll 🙂

  2. Thanks for the tip and link! Visiting the site now…

  3. It’s all true, down to the hair braiding chain.

  4. de nada.

    Looking forward reading more 🙂

  5. I miss going to the Aquarium, we did have fun!

  6. Oman is famous for whale watching and the eco tourism. Visit us

  7. […] I am not a part and found Blogging Asia. I am in love with the name of the blog, which probably isn’t a surprise. Here, Mintea from Singapore tracks her random thoughts on music, movies, books, etc. She has a […]

  8. […] Every year for our anniversary Mike and I take a weekend in Gloucester, MA. Due to rain, we had to postpone this weekend, but today we have plans to sit in front of our […]

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