Whale Watching Tourism
Maybe it's because its murky depths are one of the few places we haven't yet taken over, but the ocean and all creatures that live beneath the waves have long been a fascination of mankind. We depend on the ocean for nourishment that supports live on land. It can hold life or death, and just like the rest of the planet, as it becomes a commercial playground, even its residents become our entertainment. Perhaps whales are interesting because of their mammoth size, or it maybe its because of our shared need for oxygen. Whatever the connection is, whale watching tours have become big business all over the world.
People have probably been watching whales for all of time, hoping to catch rare, brief glimpses of the massive creatures while out casting their nets, but whale watching as an organized activity dates back to the early 1950s. The first groups observed the creatures from the land. The Cabrillo National Monument in San Diego was designated as the very first official place for the public to watch whales. A few years later, the premier water-based tour was established, charging $1 per customer.
Over the past five decades, the pastime of whale watching has grown to enjoy increasing popularity on East Coast of the United States as well. There are large groups of Humpback Whales near some of the larger cities near the Atlantic, a breed famous for its playful, grand guests. Its diving and tail slapping are sure to draw a happy crowd. Their close proximity to clusters of people makes them a convenient spectacle. The trend has continued to expand and, according to a 1998 study, is now operating to some extent in more than 80 countries all over the world.
There are many different breed of whales throughout the world's waters, and at least as many ways to observe them. You can stay on dry land, appreciate and aerial view from a small plane or helicopter, or even take a cruise. You can kill an hour, an entire day, or a couple of weeks. It can cost up to thousands of dollars per person, or as little as it takes to buy a movie ticket.
If a whale watching excursion is part of your vacation itinerary, it might be a good idea not to schedule very strictly on the day of your tour. The ocean is not the same as going to the zoo. You will be dealing with real, untamed animals that are not going to conform to a time slot. It is very much a "hurry up and wait" kind of activity, and as such, may not be appropriate for smaller children.
Like many of our natural resources, some kinds of whales have been hunted to near extinction. Most animal rights and environmental groups support whale watching activities because they draw attention to the problem without being very invasive to the animals. A little good press can go along way to making people realize what a precious resource nature is. Having the opportunity to witness the majesty of whales in their natural habitat is the best way to impress upon people what is at stake if we take no steps to protect the animals and their homes.
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