Whale watching guidelines
In Stø, we have the privilege of living and working amongst the most magnificent wildlife found in Norway. This also gives us an opportunity to provide our visitors with quality whale watching experiences. However, these opportunities are associated with the responsibility to ensure the welfare of the animals at all times. We have therefore, in close collaboration with WDCS(The Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society), established whale watching guidelines to assure best practices for our whale watching. The aims of these guidelines are to minimize the impacts on the animals and for our trained naturalists to inform our visitors about the appropriate ways of interacting with marine mammals.
- The whales should always be able to control the nature and duration of their contact with us.
- If whales seem distressed, we leave them alone and slowly depart from the area.
- Mothers with calves, or resting, feeding and/or socialising whales area approached and viewed with extra care and consideration, or left alone.
- In addition to the captain, we always have at least one dedicated observer on duty at all times.
- We never attempt to swim, snorkel, touch or feed whales for our safety and theirs.
- We approach the whales from the rear, slightly to the side of the animals
- We reduce the vessel speed at a 300 – 400 m distance from the whales
- We never block their path but instead ensure that they always have an escape route
- We stay at a distance of minimum 50 – 100 m from the whales.
- We keep a parallel course with the whales.
- We keep all noise to a minimum and avoid sudden changes in speed or direction.
- When encountering groups of dolphins, we limit our active viewing to ca 15 minutes.
- When encountering sperm whales, we do not stay with the animal for more than one dive.
Signs of disturbance in whales
- Attempts to leave the area or move away from the boat.
- Sudden or regular changes in swimming speed and/or direction.
- Sudden dives, or shallow dives to gain distance from the boat.
- Aggressive behaviour, e.g. tail splashing, flipper slapping, etc.
- Increased breathing rate.
- Increased diving duration.
Allowing whales to interact with us
The guidelines presented here refer to our active approach towards the whales. Sometimes whales are curious about us and approach our boat. In these situations we maintain our course with slow steady speed or let the engine run in neutral.