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Responsible Whale-Watching

Published Nov 13, 2006 - (Updated Jul 16, 2012)


Featured in Vallarta Lifestyles Magazine, Winter/Spring 2006 issue.

Every winter, Puerto Vallarta prepares to receive thousands of tourists from all over the world. Undoubtedly, one of the major attractions of the season are the whales that migrate to our shores from their feeding grounds along the northern coast of California, creating one of the most spectacular shows nature offers. Watching a 40-ton creature leap almost completely out of the water is an experience that cannot be forgotten.

In spite of their tremendous size, these magnificent mammals are sensitive to sudden changes in their environment, which is why it’s essential to protect them. In Mexico, laws regulate how whale-watching tours are conducted, since an improper encounter can harm these fascinating creatures.

If you want to go on a whale-watching tour, be sure to hire the services of one of the authorized companies, which carry a flag bearing the stamp of the Mexican wildlife preservation authorities and a certificate issued by SEMARNAT on each of their vessels. You’ll find posters with a list of these authorized companies at most docking points. If you purchase your tour through an agency, ensure that the tour is operated by an authorized company, asking for the list of approved companies if necessary.

All whale-watching tours should follow these basic rules:

  • Stay at least 100 feet from the whales.
  • Never stay with a given group of whales for more than 30 minutes.
  • There should never be more than two vessels with a given group of whales.
  • Approach the whales only from behind or from the sides; the boat should never cross in front of them.
  • The speed of the boat should never be more than that of the whales.
  • Never try to touch the whales.
  • Try not to make excessive noise in the whales’ presence.

If everyone contributes to the whales’ well being, they’ll continue to be one of the main attractions in Puerto Vallarta during the winter.

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