ESO issues guidelines for watching whales, dolphins

The Environment Society of Oman (ESO) has laid out guidelines for watching whales and dolphins in Oman because boats can disturb, stress or injure them. The ESO said while approaching whales and dolphins slow down at 500m and maintain a constant speed (< 4 knots) and direction. Approach from side and stability behind, never chase, harass or overtake whales or dolphins.

If approached remain stationary until the whales or dolphins move away. Do not bring on the hull, shout, whistle or swim with whales or dolphins. Limit viewing time to 30 minutes.  Only three boats at a time and view from the same side.  Among others, ESO also said that it is dangerous to attempt to swim with, touch or feed whales and dolphins. Take extra care to avoid collisions with whales and dolphins in your path and avoid using noisy environment, such as echo sounders.

Do not bang on the hull, shout or whistle to provoke a reaction.  Minimize the amount of spend to viewing to 30 minutes and if you have to keep changing directions, then the animal may be trying to avoid you and should be left alone.

In the end, Move away slowly when leaving, keeping to the 4 knot speed limit until you are at least 100 metres away.

Oman’s waters are home to over 20 species of whales and dolphins. The Arabian Sea Humpback Whale is recongnized as a unique sub-population listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species founded in 1964, which is the world’s most comprehensive inventory of the global conservation status of biological species.