Responsible Whale Watching

Protecting cetaceans and their habitats through tourism

At the World Cetacean Alliance, we’re working with our global network of Partners and the wider travel industry to support responsible wildlife tourism that supports local communities, delivers sustainable practices, and has animal welfare at its core.

We achieve this through implementing best practice whale and dolphin watching principles and site-based management through a range of accreditation programmes, training courses, and facilitation.

Many of the world’s whales, dolphins, and porpoises live close to shore, and so the threats they face are often in locations that are important for tourism. Even those cetaceans living in remoter parts of our oceans and major rivers are increasingly coming into contact with cruise ships, expedition vessels, and other forms of adventure tourism.

Tourism constitutes 10% of the global economy, with significant impacts on society and the environment. It has the potential, financial support, and will increasingly invest in coastal sustainability, community, and environmental enhancement programmes with a clear benefit for cetaceans and ocean conservation.

In recent years, the way in which tourists want to experience whales and dolphins is changing, and fast. The influence of campaigns such as ‘Blackfish’ have caused a decline in the popularity of seeing cetaceans in captivity and, consequently, the world is seeing a rise in demand for more authentic experiences with whales and dolphins in their natural habitat.

Global tourism trends also show that tourists are looking more closely at the impact of their activities and are demanding experiences that are proven to be sustainable and responsible.

At the WCA, we have developed and run a range of responsible whale and dolphin watching initiatives:

Our WCA Approved programme is available to responsible whale and dolphin watching companies that strive to operate to the highest standards of care for local wildlife, sustainability, and customer experience.

WCA Certified (soon to become WCA Approved) tour operators offer the highest quality whale and dolphin watching experiences around the world.

Our WCA Global Best Practice Guidance for responsible whale and dolphin watching represents best international practice.

Our WCA Responsible Whale Watching Guides training provides an opportunity to learn whale watching best practice via an online course.