Code of conduct
Tenerife Whale and Dolphin Watching
The vessels authorized to perform whale and dolphin watching in tenerife
are distinguished by carrying a yellow flag with the “Blue Boat” logo that allows them to be identified. The code of conduct explains how a vessel should manouever when approaching cetacea.
There are various national and international norms and laws that protect populations of whales and dolphins. Therefore, it is important to pay attention to all human activities that may affect these animals, including whale watching.
Whale and Dolphin Watching Code of Conduct
We have to remember that whales and dolphins are wild animals. If we want to continue enjoying them in the near future we have to be patient and show them respect. We always try and get as close as posible, always having a respectable distance between the vessel and them. Remember that our aim to minimise disturbance. We stand by this Code of Conduct, however, there are many variables to consider when you are out at sea, size of the pod, if there are calves (babies) present, animal behaviour (mating season or feeding/hunting time), weather conditions and so on.
The code is as follows
Observation Area 60m >
When possible, stop the propeller if any whales or dolphins decide to approach the boat and do not engage the boats proppeller until the sea mammals are well clear of the boat. Remember that it is strictly forbidden to touch, swim or feed the animals.
Approaching Area 300m >
Aim at maintaining a distance of 300 m at the beginning of the encounter and gradually get closer with time (max speed 5-6 knots). If the cetacean is travelling fast you can speed up a little up to 8 knots, but do not sail directly towards the pod or marine animal.
We should always avoid following behind and whales or dolphins and never deliberately approach them directly in front. Boat maneuvers should be parallel and approaching cautiously at an oblique angle (from behind).
Do not ccome near if there is another boat in the approaching zone, unless the other boat gives away or signals that it safe to join. This is a Code of Conduct that we seek to comply by, however, there are many variables to consider when you are out at sea, size of the pod, mating season, if there are calves present, weather conditions and so on.
Boats should take turns if there are more in the área. Each boat shouldn’t spend more than 20 to 30 minutes in the same area at once and should never deliberately sail through pods of whales or dolphins. If dolphins should approach the vessel and start bow-riding keep a steady speed or progresively stop to let them pass. Please do not encourage dolphins to bow-ride.
Searching Area (3000m >)
Keep a lookout and try and stay in radio contact with other boats and avoid sudden speed or course changes when approaching and departing. Boats should avoid making sudden or excessive noises that can disturb any marine animals. Evaluate the behavior of cetaceans and avoid repeated attempts to interact with animals that show signs of distress.
Experience and research
Human activity considered harassment can result in a range of different impacts that can vary from no observable effect, to the modification of their behavior and or physical damage to animals.
When boats get too close, get too fast or make too much noise, whales and dolphins may be disturbed and stressed. Such human behaviour can cause effects such as: separation of mothers from calves, break up of social groups, intervention in migratory patterns, interference in reproductive activities and abandonment of lactating whales. It can be difficult to assess the effects in the longer term, so a preventive approach is better.
We are willing to try to reduce any possible negative effects on whales and dolphins in the ZEC Punta Teno Rasca area, as well as providing better encounters with more relaxed animals by following these whale watching guidelines. Tenerife Whale Watching aims to set an example to other seafarers and help protect our spectacular wildlife of South West Tenerife.
TWW is committed to the educational value of whale and Dolphin watching to share the broadest message of marine conservation with as many people as possible.
Avoidance and stress behaviour
Boats should not perform any actions or approaches that may disturb the normal behavior of whales and dolphins. A disturbed marine animal may use the following actions when approached by a boat:
- Quick change in direction and or speed.
- Escape tactics such as changing course underwater and or prolonged diving.
- Sometimes a sign of distress can be expressed as underwater exhalation, slapping the surface or breaching.
- Rapid swimming at the surface away from potential danger and evasive swimming patterns.
- Attempts of a female whale or dolphin to protect her young by tail swishing/slapping or other protective movements.
Operating Guidelines for Boats around Whale & Dolphin Watching
When approaching the area of marine activity, make sure to do it with extreme caution. Observe all directions before iniciating any manouver.
- When within 200m of the nearest marine mammal, reduce speed to less than 5knots. Also you should avoid any sudden course or speed changes.
- Avoid sailing towards any whales and dolphins closer than 100m while the engine is in gear.
- Aim to approach and depart from whales from the side, following the direction of travel of the animal. Approaching whales or dolphins should never be initiated from the front or from the behind.
- If in any case the boat is approached by a whale or dolphin you should continue on your course with little change in direction or speed or opt to stop the boat to allow the animal to interact with you or swim away.
- Limit your viewing time to a maximum of 30 minutes in order to minimize the cumulative impact of other boats.
- Please limit the number of boats around any pod to 2 and try to stay on the same side where possible to not surround the animals.
- Never cut through the path of the animals.
- Never attempt to sail through groups of whales or dolphins for the purpose of bow riding. Gradually reduce speed and avoid sudden course changes should they choose to ride the bow wave of your boat.