Responsible Whale Watching and Humpback Whale Protection

Humpback Whale protection is important to Vallarta Adventures

There’s nothing quite like watching humpback whales in their natural habitat, gushing exhaled air, splashing their flukes, and even leaping into the air. You can see them interact with each other, with other species such as dolphins, and with their environment. Whale watching can give you a sense of wonder as you come to appreciate how large these animals are, how beautiful they are, and how they fit into the expanse of ocean that covers the world. 

When people go on vacation, especially if they are traveling from landlocked areas, they often choose whale watching as a way to connect with the local wildlife. Whale watching is a popular adventure, especially in Puerto Vallarta, home to humpback whales during the winter and spring months. 

At Vallarta Adventures, we are proud to introduce visitors from around the world to the life and habitat of these beautiful gentle giants by taking them out into the ocean on whale watching tours. But just as important to us as our guests’ education and experience is humpback whale protection. Responsible whale watching is key to a good and sustainable encounter between whales and humans. Continue reading as we outline the basic principles of humpback whale protection, responsible whale watching, and our efforts to combat humpback whale endangerment.

Humpback Whale Protection

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In the 19th and 20th centuries, humpback whales were hunted by commercial whalers and driven close to extinction. Thanks to global awareness and conservation efforts, including the Endangered Species Act in the United States, the population of humpback whales has rebounded significantly and they are no longer under threat. 

While humpback whale populations are increasing, we need to continue humpback whale protection efforts to ensure their continued survival. Besides, the Mexican government has enacted as well measures, and became a participant in conventions such as the Ginebra Convention for Whale Protection in 1933, and the NOM-131-SEMARNAT-2010, a Mexican law that states norms for responsible whale watching.

The greatest sources of humpback whale endangerment include vessel collision and harassment, and entanglement in human gear and fishing supplies. Because they live close to shore and are popular with whale watchers, we need to be careful in how they are approached with boats and other vessels, following local and national guidelines. 

Another threat is environmental: If we all make efforts to reduce our consumption of single-use plastics, we can avoid getting microplastics into the ocean and into the diets of whales and other marine life.

Responsible Whale Watching

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There are several recommended guidelines for whale watchers to follow in order to avoid collisions and to avoid stressing out or aggravating marine life. Responsible whale watching tours in Puerto Vallarta follow these guidelines:

  • Remain at least 100 yards away from large whales, and 50 yards from dolphins.

  • Limit time observing an individual or group of whales to 30 minutes.

  • Avoid chasing or encircling whales, and do not trap them between boats or between a boat and the shore.

  • Do not litter.

  • Avoid feeding the whales.

  • Avoid approaching whales when a vessel is already stopped nearby, as too much company can be stressful for a whale.

  • Avoid sudden changes in speed or direction near whales.

  • Never chase wildlife, and never approach head-on.

  • Leave slowly if the animals seem aggravated or stressed.

Vallarta Aventure’s Commitment

As the region’s top whale watching tour company, Vallarta Adventure is committed to humpback whale preservation and responsible whale watching. We have partnered with RABEN or  “National Attention Network of Entangled Whales”, a Mexican organization that operates along the Pacific Coast and Baja California, dedicated to disentangling whales that have become entrapped by fishing equipment. 

They provide training and education to prevent entrapments and rescue whales. RABEN works with the Mexican Navy, wildlife rangers, whale watching tour operators, and harbor personnel to fight whale endangerment.

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At Vallarta Adventures, we are committed to our partnership with RABEN and to their mission. In preparation for the 2020 whale season in Puerto Vallarta, our team just completed their annual RABEN training. And due to these joint operations with RABEN, we had successfully accomplished the liberation of 3 entangled whales between December 2019 and January 2020.

Humpback whale protection is important to us. Conservation and environmental responsibility are among our core values, and this informs the way that our whale watching tours operate in Puerto Vallarta. If we all work together, we can make this planet safer for all creatures, large and small, while still appreciating all that nature has to offer. 

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