Austin Hess 2020-11-11 12:49:51
The months of August & September mark the "Prime Time" to view and experience the migratory Humpback Whales that have come to visit the warm waters within the bay of Panama. Although, the country has several resident whale species that can be seen throughout the year, "Whale Watching" has undoubtedly become a main attraction for tourists, as well as locals. This elevated demand for options to experience the whales has resulted in both positive and negative effects on the private and commercial boating industry.
Responsible boating in general begins with properly following regulations and guidelines. It must be understood that we are viewing wild creatures in their natural unpredictable environment. It is essential that we approach these large mammals with caution and respect, always providing them with enough space and distance from our boats to react naturally. Although, it has become quite an attraction to snorkel and swim with whales, we must not confuse ideal opportune moments of tranquility, with chasing and "dive bombing" whales as they are swimming to protect their young.
The concurrent demand for more whale watching boating options during these months, has resulted in the "desperate" use of private pleasure boats, as well as local "Pangas" to carry large amounts of passengers without the proper boating safety knowledge, licensing, and emergency equipment. The negligent support of this unprofessional approach can’t continue to allow unnecessary accidents to occur, inevitably restricting the future activity of whale watching for us all.
These following guidelines should be considered while approaching whales: Approach breaching whales slowly, observing from a distance initially, to get a better understanding of the number of whales in the pod and their attitude. Proceed slowly, parallel to their general direction, never chase them with the boat. Never jump-in on moving whales, you will not be able to truly see them. The most opportune moment to swim with a whale is when you have observed the specific whales for a good period of time. Noticing that they are "socially acceptable", relaxed, possibly even looking for you (this is a social whale) and will occur only if you present yourself with proper "social skills".