New Research Papers on Whale Watching Impacts in Reunion Island

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The Downsides of Swimming With Whales: Studying Agonistic Behaviours In Reunion Island

In the past weeks a couple of incidents have occurred at the Ningaloo Marine Park in Western Australia during swim-with-whales tours.

Following these unlucky incidents, the “Quietude team” of Centre D’Etude Et De Découverte Des Tortues Marines (CEDTM) has reminded the community of whale watchers in Reunion island that swim with activities are today quite polemical and prohibited in most of the world. Indeed, only a few places still allow this activity to take place, amongst which is Reunion Island.

Underwater encounters with cetaceans are an incredible experience. These encounters not only spark off strong emotions in those lucky enough to have witnessed them, but also make them more aware and engaged in the protection of these charismatic creatures and their environment, feelings they will most likely spread later on. As a matter of fact, swim with practices have become very popular in Reunion Island in the last years.

They however raise questions about their impact on the animals, as well as about the swimmers’ safety. Several studies are being conducted worldwide to improve the knowledge on this issue, and the first scientific publication on this topic in Reunion Island has just been published by the “Quietude team”.

This study aims at better understanding the main factors triggering such behaviours from the cetaceans. This way, the swim with whales protocols can be improved to be more respectful, less impacting for the animals and in the most possibly safe conditions, in those countries where the activity is still allowed.

Swim-with-whale protocol being implemented in Reunion Island © Duocean

Whale Watching In Reunion Island: Monitoring The Activity For A More Respectful and Sustainable Practice

Whale watching is a quite recent activity in Reunion Island and is still growing to date. The monitoring of the evolution of this activity and the establishment of a framework to better manage it have progressively been set up by the local stakeholders and authorities in cooperation. The support obtained from international partners has been key to provide experienced advice on the development of such activity within a territory.

As the activity is rapidly evolving, with increasing numbers of tour operators and the consequent amendments to the existing regulations, a first assessment of the state-of-the-art of whale watching in Reunion Island has just been published by the “Quietude team” of CEDTM, in charge of monitoring the activity, improving the tranquility of the cetacean and whale watching practices.

Such study will be useful to support decision making, especially in regard to improving the frame of the activity so as to adapt it to its own fast evolution, while ensuring the practice is led in the most respectful and sustainable manner.

For more information on WCA Partner Centre D’Etude Et De Découverte Des Tortues Marines (CEDTM), visit their website HERE.

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