Major Marine Tours has been a proud participant of Whale SENSE since 2017, and we are excited to announce that we have completed our training again for the 2019 season. Whale SENSE is a voluntary education and recognition program offered to commercial whale watching companies in the US Atlantic and Alaska. This program is sponsored by NOAA Fisheries and Whale and Dolphin Conservation, and is celebrating 10 years of promoting responsible whale watching practices. Whale SENSE was founded on the east coast, and recently branched out to Alaskan waters, providing companies with resources and guidelines for sustainable whale watching practices.
Companies participating in Whale SENSE are committed to the following:
Stick to the regional whale watching guidelines.
Educate naturalists, captains, and passengers to have SENSE while watching whales.
Notify appropriate networks of whales in distress.
Set an example for other boaters.
Encourage ocean stewardship.
To qualify for the program, a company must complete training and evaluation of the Whale SENSE guidelines. Participating in this program aligns with our company policy to “observe not disturb” the marine life that we see on our cruises. We follow strict guidelines involving approach and viewing distance, noise disturbance, and the amount of time we spend with an individual marine mammal.
We encounter several different whale specials and marine mammals on all of our cruises, including gray whales, humpback whales, fin whales, minke whales, and killer whales. The most commonly-seen whale is the humpback whale, which travels to Alaska from Hawaii to feed in our nutrient-rich waters in the summer. Seeing these magnificent creatures is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for many passengers, and we want to give our guests the best experience while following our whale watching guidelines. These guidelines includes turning off our engines when appropriate, keeping a safe distance from whales, and not cutting off their line of travel. Though we are always committed to keeping a safe distance from whales, sometimes curious or playful whales decide to change direction and swim alongside or underneath the boat. If this happens, we turn off the boat engines to ensure the whales’ safety.
Responsible whale watching is an important aspect of the culture and sustainability of Alaska, with over 15 companies participating in Whale SENSE throughout Alaska. Major Marine Tours is proud to participate in this program and will continue to invest in protecting Alaska’s wildlife and landscapes through our commitment to environmental sustainability. We are already seeing the return of some of the North Pacific Humpback Whale population to Alaska on our spring cruises, and have been treated to spectacular sightings of orcas and fin whales. We hope you will join us on one of our whale watching cruises this season!