Argentina leads whale-watching tourism in Latin America, an activity that requires strict control so as not to affect the whales' habitat. To go whale-watching according to the regulations established for this activity is a way of collaborating in the conservation of the Right Whale and its habitat: the Ocean.
The Península Valdés, an ecological sanctuary in the Atlantic Ocean in southern Argentina, is the most popular place for whale-watching. It is an international example of how whales could be used by a community for generating a sustainable source of income.
Located in Chubut province, Peninsula Valdés is a protected natural area declared a World Natural Heritage site by the UNESCO.
From July to December, about a thousand whales arrive in order to reproduce. These 15 meter-long and 60-ton mammals give birth to only one calf every two or three years. Their moments of courting rituals, reproduction and calf's growing up are almost sacred to many people.
Whale-watching is becoming vital for almost a hundred local communities in the region, informs "The State of Whale Watching in Latin America", published in 2008 by International Fund for the Protection of Animals and their Habitats, Global Ocean and the Society for the Conservation of Whales and Dolphins.
Whale watchers in the Valdes Peninsula total more than 240,000 people every year.
The activity, that did not exist 40 years ago, is growing at a rate of 11.3 percent annually since 1998, three times faster than international tourism. Argentina is the leader, according to the report, and is one of the seven countries most advanced in the field of regulations.
This activity lasts 90 minutes as minimum, with half an hour between departures; the navigation speed should not exceed 10 knots and should be reduced to 5 when being next to these animals. It is recommended that tourists should not throw garbage, shout and try to touch whales.
In Valdés, it is prohibited to approach mothers with calves or perform maneuvers that could interfere with them or mating groups before August 31st. Also, boats should keep 50 meters of distance to the animal when it is jumping.
"Each passenger must know the rules and comply with them." For this reason, the BCI developed a brochure in English and Spanish that is distributed to tourists and is sponsored by Metropolitan Touring Argentina under the slogan "Think Green, Paint Your Heart Ocean Blue" Download brochure:
* Find out more about whale watching in Argentina with our great itinerary to the Valdés Peninsula http://www.metropolitan-touring.com/content.asp?id_page=2246
* Watch videos, in Spanish, about the ICB Whale Adoption Programme:
- Documental Institucional del ICB: http://www.vimeo.com/3951067
- Programa de Adopcion de Ballenas del ICB: www.youtube.com/watch?v=hofUI6435wc
- Video Educativo sobre la Ballena Franca Austral: http://www.vimeo.com/3967201
- Programa de Monitoreo Sanitario de Ballena Franca Austral: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MrPkENIUIco
* Find out more about Metropolitan Touring Argentina's adoption of Alfonsina the whale