OUR CONDUCT AROUND WHALES
Whales are important and plentiful animals in the Churchill Manitoba area and in the northern Manitoba and Nunavut coastal environment. As it is in the observation of all wildlife behaviour, it is important to allow the whale to control any interaction. If the animal is curious, it will approach our vessels. If it is disturbed by our presence, it will move away. The key to our conduct around whales is to recognize that they are wild animals that must rest, forage, feed, socialize and complete other life processes to survive. We recognize that any activity by a vessel that disturbs or prevents animals from completing life processes represents a threat to the conservation and survival of these majestic creatures.
Prior to whale watching tours, we encourage realistic expectations of encounters with whales to avoid disappointing our customers and to reduce pressure from them to undertake risky vessel activities.
We will operate our vessels in a manner that does not disturb whales. Disturbance is indicated when the animal changes its behaviour because of our presence or activities. A change in behaviour is observed when whales change their swimming direction or speed, when they cease or increase specific behaviours, or when they leave an area.
We recognize that Belugas are social animals and will approach a vessel or a swimmer voluntarily. In such cases we will interpret the visit and the interaction while at all times ensuring the safety and respectful treatment of the Beluga.
We will not operate our vessels in a manner that changes the behaviour of the whales, causes disruption to their social groups, or makes them leave an area.
To ensure our vessels does not disturb the whales we are in the act of viewing:
- When animals are within 25 m of our vessels we will allow the animals to completely control the interaction and operate our vessels with due caution.
- We will ensure that animals are not surrounded by boats.
- We will not pursue or chase whales.
- We will operate our vessels at speeds that are appropriate for Beluga viewing and will minimize disturbance to the animal.
- We will not knowingly cut across the paths of animals but will approach slowly from the rear, parallel to the animal’s path.
- When whales approach our vessels during viewing we will reduce our speed and be aware of the noise our vessels makes under water.
- We will take special care when mothers and calves are present to ensure that we do not separate them.
- When vessel traffic is intense and persistent near animals, we will conduct searches to find other, less disturbed animals.
We will provide our passengers with accurate, up-to-date information about whales, and inform them of their role in the marine ecosystem. We will urge them to appreciate and support the conservation of the animals and preservation of the marine habitat animals require.