Summer is approaching, and with it, an increase in tourist activities. One of the most popular is whale and dolphin watching. Many people see these activities as an alternative to visiting zoos, as they consider that they are not harming the animals, as they are present in their natural environment.
However, beyond the perception they may have, these boat visits to places frequented by cetaceans represent an alteration of the marine ecosystem that has a negative impact on the health of the cetaceans. The companies involved in this type of activity comply with a series of regulations to reduce the impact on these animals, however, many private boats do not respect the space of these mammals. A sad example of this can be found in some of the boats that do these sightings for tourists on the coast of eastern Spain.
Members of the Edmaktub Association and the CaboRorcual Project who participate in the campaign of sighting and study of cetaceans on the coast of Valencia and Alicante captured last weekend images of several fin whales being harassed by boats that approached closer than the allowed distance.
Numerous studies point out that the use of fuel for boats, water pollution, or waste that is sometimes thrown into the sea from these vessels disturb cetaceans and other wildlife, both in the short and long term. (Lujan, 2013).
This contrasts with the conditions in which cetaceans living in modern zoos are kept. At Loro Parque, the water is filtered and treated so that the animals have optimal water conditions for their health and well-being. Likewise, all the animals at Loro Parque receive an adequate diet established by their keepers together with the park’s veterinary team. Among many other practices that seek the welfare of the cetaceans that live under our care.
Therefore, it is striking that many tourists, probably due to lack of knowledge, participate in activities that may harm the animals and their environment.