Whale Watching

What is it?
Whale watching is a way of ecotourism and it is the observing or contemplation of these animals, directly in their natural habitat, being necessary some studies and patience, because it is necessary knowing when and where to find them, because they are migratory animals, being at different places at any time. This kind of leisure has been becoming one of the most important divisions of ecotourism all around the world.

    Hunt and extinction
    The hunting of whales is almost so antique as navigation history, but with modern resources, the number of these setaceous has reduced so much that so many species are threatened from extinction.
Nowadays it is calculated the existence of around 1.000 blue whales, 85.000 fin whales, 12.000 sei whales,
For the protection of the whales it was created the International Whale Commission (CBI) that in 1986 declared a moratoria to the commercial hunt.
There still are two more sanctuaries created by CBI, that are the sanctuary of the Indic Ocean (1970) and the sanctuary of the Antarctic Ocean (1994), but these administrative ways of protection doesn't avoid that at Japan they have been hunting around 400 mink whales per year.
So the importance of conscious about the necessity of preserving these spectacular mammals, being relevant the development of the observing tourism, that besides bringing more conscious, can also bring economic power for the cause.

    Observing Regulations
    In some countries there still are regulation for "whale watching".


    Places for practicing "whale watching" -  Whale Watching in Brazil

Prai do Rosa - Imbituba-SC
There are a lot of places at the world where "whale watching" is practiced. In Brazil this practiced has been growing a lot for the peculiarities of your coast, which besides being of big extension presents good opportunities of the sea visualization for this sport.
The main places for practicing this modality in Brazil are at Abrolhos (BA) and Praia do Forte (BA), where the jubarte whales can be seen; Rose Beach (SC), for seeing franca whales and Arraial do Cabo (RJ), for seeing Bryde whales.

   Better period
  The best period for seeing whales in Brazil is at the cold and starting of spring, more exactly from June to September, when a lot of species come to the Brazilian coasts for procreation and breast-feeding of the youngs.

Franca Whales (Eubalaena australis)
Description: the Right whales are setaceous that can reach more than 17 m, and the females are bigger than the males ones. They can height 60 ton- females and 45 ton males.
Identification: the characteristic "squirt" in a "v" way; they have callus or "warts" at the high or side of their heads, which proper the formation of "cracas" colonies that give them a white color hat can be seen in a big distance.
Reproduction: The reproductive period is mainly at the south coast of Brazil an at the South African Coast between June and December, when there are breeding and youngs are born as a result of the last year breeding. The youngs are born around 5 m and height from 4 to 5 ton.
As the hunting prohibition there is also noticed the increasing of breeding at these regions and the borning of youngs.
Feeding: the franca whales eat small crustaceans as "krill", using the mouth's fin as a filter, consuming ton of these animals in a small period.
The food area is not known, but we can be sure that it is at the Antarctic area. Interesting to be noticed is that the franca whales don't eat when they are at reproduction stage, consuming the acquired reserves. Franca Whale Project:
This project was created in 1981 by a volunteer group and has as main objective guarantying the surviving and recuperation of franca whales population at Brazilian waters.
The Franca Whale Project is nowadays managed by Brazil's national management of the IWC- International World Coalition, working in the scientific investigation and the monitoring of these whales population, and also develops an environmental education for the public conscious about avoiding the annoying of the animals.
It is located at the "Praia do Rosa", Imbituba County, Santa Catarina.
More information: "Projeto Baleia Franca" (www.baleiafranca.org.br)

Jubarte Whales (Megaptera novaeangliae)

Description: The Humpback Whales are cetaceans that can reach around 16 meters e weigh around 35 to 40 tons.
Identification: They are easily identified by their big chest natators, if compared to their body and costume of going out of water, with marvelous dives. They are also  different because of their tales that they show a long time out of water.

Reproduction: The reproductive period is, in Brazilian coasts, from June to November, especially in Bahia coasts.

Feeding: They feed from small crustaceans as "krill", eating tons of them each day.

For knowing more: Instituto Baleia Jubarte (www.baleiajubarte.com.br) and Centrotour Operadora (www.centrotour.com.br), one of the main local enterprise for whale watching tourism in Praia do Forte Region (Bahia).


Whales species that can be observed at Brazilian Coasts.Baleia-franca ( Eubalaena astralis)
Baleia-jubarte (Megaptera novaeangliae)
Baleia-franca-do-sul (Eubalaena australis)
Baleia-de-Bryde (Balaenoptera edeni)
Baleia-minke-anã (Balaenoptera acutorostrata)
Baleia-sei (Balaenoptera borealis)
Baleia-fin ( Balaenoptera physalus)
Baleia-azul (Balaenoptera musculus)

  The emergent observing tourismBarco utilizado na Praia do Rosa
    Tourism is considered by many researches organs as one of the activities divisions that are growing more in the world, being calculated that more than 180 million people live directly or indirectly of this activity, moving around the world trillion of dollars. And for attracting interested people in a lot of distinct areas, tourism has become divided in segments as: cultural tourism, religious tourism, sportive tourism, child tourism, third age tourism, gastronomic tourism, country tourism and ecological tourism or ecotourism.
This last modality has become the one that has been more developing in the last years, mainly at the countries that are called the emergent ones, as Brazil, because there still are a lot of natural areas. Ecotourism is also subdivided in a lot of modalities, but among them, the observing tourism must be distinct for being one of the emergent ways that are more calling the attention of naturalists and ecologists, because its practice involves a lot of important factors for the preservation and ecology studies. Let's see it.
The observing tourism is a segment of ecotourism where the ecotourist goes to some natural area, observing its beauty, contemplating it, or specifically one or some of its elements as birds or mammals, and as an example, the whales. This kind of ecotourism has practically been originated from the "photographic safari", which has been initiated around the century 60 and it is still common, mainly at the African continent, where the mastofauna permits better photographic registers. But one of the main factors that provides the development of the observing tourism is the increasing of ecological conscious and as consequence the preserving of natural areas, providing place and opportunities for this kind of activity.
The ways that more are emerging are birding, whale watching and scenery watching. All of them are interesting ways of leisure and entertainment The birding is the most antique one, being so developed at the USA, England, German, Spain and Japan, being calculated that there are around 80 million birders around the world. It represents a big economical potential, if we consider that this people are almost all from developed countries and consequently they have acquisitive power for international trips.Barco utilizado na Praia do Rosa
Therefore, the whale watching is a way that is becoming bigger and bigger, including Brazil, and it can be noticed by the increasing of special packages for this kind of ecotourism for the coast of Santa Catarina and the region of Abrolhos-Bahia, where at the end of winter and beginning of spring groups of franca and jubarte whales come for breeding, giving us an impressive spectacle. Therefore, in a lot of the world's places, the whale watching is practiced, being calculated that there are more than 40 million whale observers, generating a lot of divisions. By its turn, the scenery watching is emerging because of the increasing of environmental sensibility and the increasing of the degradation, what has made small the number of places where natural scenic beauty can be seen.
The observing Tourism brings a lot of advantages.
So, the emergent observing tourism must have the attention of the proper organs of tourism, as from the press, enterprise owners, biologists, ecologists, naturalists etc., mainly in regions that are rich in natural areas, because it represents a way of touristic, socio-economic and ecological development, so important for having an environment ecologically balanced.

    Advantages of observing ecotourism:

Minimum environmental impact
Educative character
There isn't age limitation
Provides income for remote places or with small commercial activity
Employs the country mass, giving opportunities for personal development
Incentive hotel and tourism industry
Employs in new activities as guides, ecologues, educators etc.
Collaborates to the principles of sustainable development that is in the Agenda 21.

    Sites about the subject:

Some pictures from our practice in Brazil










Click here for watching some videos


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Texts and Pictures: Antonio Silveira
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