Top Five Eco-Friendly Whale Watching Travel Companies
Whale Watching travel companies tend to be eco-conscious, and these five, in particular, engage in commendable sustainable practices to help the marine environment and their local communities.
Kakouira, New Zealand, at the base of the Southern Alps, is a quiet community of 2,000 people and lots of wildlife. The town enjoys a reputation as an eco-tourism center, and they make a concerted effort to protect their beautiful natural environment. This year, Whale Watch Kaikoura won the Community Benefit Award from World Travel & TourismÂ Council. The Community Benefit Award is given to travel companies that help the local community. Whale Watch Kakouira was formed in the 1980's by the Kati Kuri people of Kaikoura, a Maori Tribe, and the organization has won a number of nature tourism awards for Â their sensitivity and awareness of the environment.
Maui, a fine place to whale watch, boasts a number of eco travel companies. Pacific Whale Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit, runs the Pacific Whale Foundation Eco-Adventures. PWF has conducted marine research along the Hawaiian coast, as well as in Japan, Ecuador, Tonga, Alaska and Australia. The Pacific Whale Foundation uses sustainable ecotour boats and educates the public. Their conservation team does everything from preventing whaling to picking up litter.
Like many marine related travel companies in the Pacific Northwest, Ocean Ecoventures is certified by the Pacific Whale Watch Association (PWWA). If you're interested in whale watching in Canada or around the San Juan islands, the PWWA has a useful directory of eco-friendly whale watching operators. Ecoventures (like the PWWA members in the area) is committed to protecting the Southern Resident Orca Whales, based on the science and research conducted by PWWA. Ocean Eco Ventures is located in the Cowichan Bay, in British Columbia, Canada.
The Azorean Archipelago is a group of nine islands about 1,000 miles from Portugal. They are lush green with craggy mountain rocks, and an abundance of whales. Whale Watch Azores regularly spots short finned pilot and sperm whales. Other whales include the Orca, Sowerby's, True's and Cuvier's, and many others. Whale Watch Azores is attempting to determine the number of sperm whales in the area, and research their migration patterns. Whale Watch Azores is involved in drafting the regulations to control the whale watching industry, and they are committed to educating visitors and locals (the children sometimes get free school trips). Whale Watch Azores is also committed to recycling, buying local produce and other eco-friendly practices.
Dominica is referred to as the "Whale Watching Capital of the Caribbean." There are also two Marine Reserves in Dominica, and they are in the process of developing a third. Good thing, because sperm whales now number only about 360,000 globally, where as they used to be about 1.1 million. Dominica does not support whaling, and has one of the healthiest marine environments. The whale watching eco-friendly travel companies in Dominica, though, are a bit difficult to sort through online. Hibiscus Eco Tours (part of an eco-friendly lodge) is certainly one that's committed to protecting the environment and looking out for the whales.
Photo Credit: Flickr