Code of Conduct for whale watching
On our tours, you can interact with wild nature and we want to keep it like that. Therefore we do our best to minimize the impact and disturbance caused to the animals while still giving our customers an unforgettable experience. Here the importance of the code of conduct.
Whales come to the Skjálfandi Bay in the summer to feed and build up fat resources for the winter. Once they head south food becomes scarce and they can go up to 6 months with nothing to eat. That is why the summertime is so important for the animal’s health and future potential. Luckily Iceland has plenty of food to offer thanks to constant sunlight and nutrient-rich waters.
However, it is important that whales are undisturbed and can exploit the vast resources in peace. Distressed by boat animals can stop feeding and spend a lot of resources trying to move away from the vessels and away from the food.
Our crew constantly observes the animals and looks for distress behaviors that would signal to us, that it is time to move away.
Distress behaviors can include:
Diving and swimming away from the vessel
Anomalous dive sequence
Tail and head-slapping
Blowing air underwater
We also follow the Code of conduct which describes how to approach animals:
Guidelines for operating vessels around cetaceans
Search zone (>300m)
Look out for whales. Signs of animals include a blow, big splashes, dorsal fins or even big flocks of birds.
Approach zone (<300m)
Once an animal is located the captain beings approach. The speed of the boat is significantly reduced. Animals are only approached from the side, never head-on or from the back to avoid collisions.
Caution zone (<100m)
The boat moves slowly or the propeller is turned off. Now we see what happens! Curious animals can approach the boat on their own and check it out, giving our customers an unforgettable experience.
Distressed animals can swim away if they choose to. Whales that do not seem to mind company often continue feeding while our boats cruise along.
We try to spend no longer than 20-30min with a single animal to minimize the impact. Similarly, we try to have no more than 3 boats at once with the same individual – if so we can go look somewhere else and come back later.
Interested in learning more about the impacts of whale watching in the area?
Check out this research project Here