WorldWide Responsible whale watching
If you would like to go whale or dolphin watching in other destinations around the world. We highly recommend you go with one of our Whale and Dolphin Watch friends who are all dedicated to Responsible, Educational and Respectful whale and dolphin watching.
Responsible Whale Watching
Whale Watching Panama is dedicated to providing Responsible, Respectful, Educational and Sustainable Whale and Dolphin watching tours that have minimum impact on the animals and the environment.
Responsible Whale Watching
Our Commitment to Responsible Whale Watching
To the Whales and Dolphins
Here at Whale Watching Panama we are committed to respecting the whales, dolphins and all natural marine life at all times. Our main policy is to always give the animals complete control and choice over the encounter with our boats. We follow the required legal guidelines of the ARAP (Water Resources Authority of Panama) on our tours. Click here to see Panama's guidelines (in Spanish). Our goal is to eliminate and minimize our impact on any marine life we encounter on our tours. We never want to see the whales or dolphins change their course or behavior as a result of our presence. If the animals being observed show clear avoidance behavior then we will leave them in peace and look for other animals who are not affected in any way by our presence. All of our guides are professionals and many of them have Biology degrees from university. Our guides work closely with our boat captains to determine the angle of approach, the behavior and interest level of the whales and dolphins and the guide has the last word as to whether or not we stay or leave any of the animals we observe on our tours.
To the Environment
We use boats with 4 stroke engines, which are quieter and cleaner for the environment on all of our tours from Panama City. These motors also use less fuel. On our full day tours in the Pearl Islands we often use catamaran or monohull sailboats that rely mainly on the wind for 'fuel'. When there is no wind, these boats have electric motors or mixed electric/gas motors to minimize our petroleum based fuel consumption. The sailboats all have solar panels and wind generators for electricity use on board the boat. The sailboats also have watermakers on board that can make fresh, potable water out of sea water for our guests to drink, thus eliminating the need to deplete limited fresh water sources on the islands and any need for plastic water bottles. When we do use cans or plastic bottles on our tours from the city, we recycle all containers that we have used.
To the Community
All of our guides (other than company owner, Anne Gordon de Barrigón) are local Panamanians. The majority of our boat owners are Panamanians. In the Pearl Islands, for our 3 hour tours we work with local fishermen in their panga style boats. We are proud to work with as many locals as possible to help sustain and augment their income. We work with them to help educate them about how to maneuver their boats responsibly around the whales, dolphins and all marine life. We donate back 10% of all profits to support local Indigenous schools and education opportunities.
What is Responsible Whale Watching?
Responsible is a term that is popular these days, but must be taken seriously. To be a responsible whale watcher means that the goal must be to respect, protect and conserve the whales, dolphins and marine environment. The whale watching company must be aware of and adhere to any local government whale watching guidelines. It also means to educate the guests on board about the biology, behaviors and general whale information with the purpose to instill a respect and interest in protecting and conserving the whales, dolphins and the world’s oceans. To put it simply, a responsible whale watching tour should give Maximum experience and observation with Minimum impact on the animals being observed and the marine environment.
In choosing a whale watching tour make sure the operator is knowledgeable about the whales and adheres to Panama’s whale watching guidelines issued by ARAP ( Water Resources Authority of Panama).
- A responsible whale watching boat should always respect the animals first and approach at a slow speed from an angle, never head on, or from directly behind the whales. Once a respectful distance is reached, then the boat should remain parallel to the whales. - A boat should never approach closer than 100 meters of an adult whale or 300 meters of a mother and young calf. If the whales show interest and approach the boat, the captain should either put the engine in neutral or turn the motor off until the whales are at least 100 meters away from the boat. - There should never be more than 3 boats observing the same whale or group of whales. If you approach a group of whales with more than 3 boats, back off and wait until one of the boats leaves or look for other whales to observe. - Always keep in mind you are observing wild animals in their natural habitat and be respectful of their behavior. Never attempt to chase or herd them in a certain direction or try to make them change their behavior. - If the whales seem bothered or change their behavior because of your presence or move away from you, leave them alone and look for other more tolerant whales to observe.