Whale watching training
Accredited Wildlife Safe Operator training with WiSE
Whilst sailing on Narwhal we have been very fortunate to have has some wonderful encounters with marine wildlife including whales, dolphins an some cheeky seals. We have recorded all of the sightings that we have made whilst we have been out sailing and have submitted them to the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust. I believe that having the privilege to encounter these animals in the wild comes with a responsibility to ensure their well-being and protection. So it was particularly exciting to attend the Accredited Wildlife Safe Operator course, WiSe for short, being run through the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust.
What the course involves
The training course involved an insight into the work of the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust. It was really positive to see first hand how our sightings data is being used, in this case to help inform the formation and boundaries of a marine protected area on Scotland's west coast. A positive change being helped by amazing wildlife encounters, it doesn't get much better than that.
Whale and dolphin behaviour
The course then focussed on teaching about wildlife behaviours, the aim being that if we can identify normal behaviours from on board the boat we will better be able to tell if an animal is exhibiting abnormal behaviours which could be caused by our presence, and so identify when to move away. We also learnt about courtship and mating behaviours and activities associated with rearing young, all crucial times in a animal's lifecycle when we do not want to cause any disturbance as well as the location and time being important information to pass on to the trust.
Can I film whales with my drone?
We learnt about the legal framework protecting wildlife in Scotland so that we can ensure that we are always operating within the law. There is a very readable code of conduct called the Scottish Marine Wildlife Watching Code. It includes lots of information on best practice for wildlife watching, including the use of drones near wildlife. You can download yourself a copy here.
Top tips for whale watching from a boat
Here are the top tips from the marine biologists who ran our course on how to have an amazing wildlife encounter from a boat
- Be aware how you approach the animal, approach from the side, do not come at the animal from the front. or approach it from behind
- Slow down as you approach, no more than 6kts at 300m
- At 100m stop your vessel and do not approach any closer, allow the animal to come to you
- There should not be more than 3 boats around any animal or group at any one time
- Stay with an animal for a maximum of 15 mins
- Enjoy the wonderful experience
- Record and report your sighting.
What does it mean for you?
It means that if you join us for a sailing trip with Narwhal Expeditions, you will be travelling with a WiSE approved operator. You can be sure that we will be adhering to the codes of conduct in place to protect and minimise disturbance to wildlife. The crew will use and pass on their knowledge of the wildlife to ensure both you and the wildlife have a positive experience. You will also know that any sighting that you make are contributing to our understanding of these animals as well as their protection.
Want to get involved and do some wildlife spotting of your own? How about joining us on board for one of the exciting sailing adventures that we have planned