During my travels, I’m always looking for ways to interact with animals — whether it’s by visiting a local animal sanctuary, hiking through the woods, or walking along the beach. When in Cape Cod, one is almost certain to feel the pull of the whale watching opportunities.
I was just a young girl the first time I experienced the thrill of the whale watch, with my family during a a stay on the Cape. A little later in life, I would be privileged to receive a grant from the National Endowment of the Humanities to spend the better part of a summer researching and discussing with a select group the different aspects of Herman Melville’s work — Moby Dick, of course, a focal point of our work. The magnificent white whale. Mythic. Epic. And, just as in literature, sighting a whale is among the most mesmerizing and humbling experiences in life.
Responsible Whale Watching: WhaleSense.org
We know too much about the horrors of Sea World or other similar entertainment parks to partake in those kinds of interactions. However, it’s also important to do a little homework before signing up for a whale watch. As always, the idea is that we want to observe wildlife without being disruptive; and whale-watching is largely a self-regulated industry with few laws looking out for the welfare of the mammals. I was happy, then, to discover Whale SENSE, an organization whose mission is to ensure the safety and well-being of the whales and other sea animals while allowing us to enjoy these commercial whale watches. Participating companies agree to:
- Stick to responsible whale watching guidelines
- Educate naturalists, captains and passengers to have SENSE while watching whales
- Notify appropriate networks of whale problems (injured or entangled whales)
- Set and example for other boaters for responsible whale watching practices
- Encourage ocean stewardship
Check out the Whale SENSE web site to look up the company and see if it is a participant. The site lists whale watching companies in Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York. You’ll also find some great information about the different species of whale and dolphin there.