Whale and dolphin watching

Dolphin watching at Chanonry Point, Scotland
Dolphin watching at Chanonry Point, Scotland
Going on a whale or dolphin watching trip? It can be a life-changing experience so it is no surprise that it is a popular pastime with at least 13 million taking part every year. WDC positively encourages you to go and see these amazing creatures in the wild - where they belong!

Whale and dolphin watching trips can be life-changing experiences. That is why so many people go on trips every year. 

Keeping whales and dolphins in tanks for our entertainment is wrong and so WDC positively encourages you to go and see these amazing creatures in the wild where they belong. And there are many destinations. Places like the Azores (April-October) for blue whales, sperm whales, spotted and common dolphins; Iceland (June -August) for minke whales, humpback whales, orcas and white-beaked dolphins and Kaikoura, New Zealand (November- March) for sperm whales and dusky dolphins, all offer fantastic opportunities to see these creatures in all their majestic glory. 

WDC works hard to promote responsible whale watching around the globe, so before you book have a look at our recommendations. Our new report features some of the best places to see whales and dolphins in the wild.

Whales and dolphins can actually benefit from whale watching – not least because whale watching makes it possible to make money from whales without killing them.

This is good news for the whales, of course, but it is also good news for coastal communities as it provides a source of income for life.

You should be careful though. The best trips and operators have respect for the whales and dolphins and the places in which they live, but not all operators have their best interests in mind. The worst trips can even put whales and dolphins at risk.

Areas overcrowded with boats, or where boats create disturbance, can put whales and dolphins under great stress and even cause fatal injury. Whale watching operations should benefit the whales and dolphins as well as the environment, which means vessels approaching with great care, limiting the time spent near the animals, providing an educational experience and so on.

Japanese whale watchers

This is where WDC comes in. We work hard to promote responsible whale watching around the globe, develop better regulations, train whale watch operators and guides, and encourage the public to look out for ways to help improve such operations even more.

Whales and dolphins can be incredibly energetic, even acrobatic - you may witness spyhopping (raising the head vertically out of the water); breaching (leaping clear of the water and landing with a loud splash); bow riding (riding on the pressure wave created ahead of the bow of a vessel); pec-slapping (raising a pectoral fin out of the water and slapping it noisily down); lobtailing (forcefully slapping the fluke, or tail fin, against the surface of the water).

But, before you book a trip or buy tickets for a certain boat, do some online research, ask for an information leaflet, read display boards or ask questions at the booking office. Make sure that you are happy with what is on offer before you actually board any vessel.