Whale-Watching Can Be Harmful To Cetaceans

Dustin Wicksell

While ecotourism is a growing industry, opening up the world to tourists captivated by its natural beauty, recent research suggests that whale-watching may actually be harmful to cetaceans, potentially altering the way in which the marine mammals behave.

As Smithsonian reports, a recent meeting of the International Marine Conservation Congress (IMCC) concluded that while the practice of whale-watching isn't as bad as whaling, it could still be inflicting damage on the species, even inadvertently. Wildlife biologist Leslie New of the US Geological Survey in Laurel, Maryland, described the effect as "death by 1,000 cuts," pointing out that while "whale-watching is traditionally seen as green tourism," there are drawbacks. "The negative is the potential for disturbance."

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Most speakers at the IMCC meeting contended that more should be done to protect whales and dolphins from the effects of ecotourism. As New pointed out, "Although whale-watching is not as bad as whaling, it might be that last piece that pushes a species over."

[Image via Trip Advisor]