A Sad Day – 14/11/21

Today was a day, which I hoped will never come…but it did. I am utterly shocked what the whale watching and especially the snorkelling has become up here in the North of Norway.

In the morning we have found a big group of humpback whales, 20+ individuals. We went to see the humpbacks and the madness started. The humpback group was closely together, swimming with 7-8 knots. A few boats have been following them peacefully when a couple of small dinghies rushed to the scene to drop the snorkelers in…We’re talking about 20 humpback whales and probably 50 snorkelers on 5 small dinghies. They cut the way of other boats and dropped the people in front of moving boats…

It looks like this year safety is the last thing that these small dinghies care about. They just must “deliver” the service, what their guests have paid for… It does not matter what it costs.

We decided to leave the scene because it was disturbing to watch and went further in the fjord because we saw some orcas through the binoculars.

Well…After, what I have seen there we probably should have stayed with the humpback whales. It was approximately 70-80 orcas after probably feeding in the area surrounded by a minimum of 9-10 snorkelling dinghies plus private charter boats, meaning as per my solid guess 120-150 people to jump into the water. We came to the point, where we see more snorkelers out there every single day than actual orcas….

We did see some familiar faces, like Flappy.

Today was the first day we have seen Flappy. He is known to be a little bit shy, probably due to his condition (collapsed dorsal fin) and he often stays behind his pod as he is a little bit slower than the rest. He was swimming together with another orca, who had a head deformity.

I have seen multiple animals in the group with similar head deformities and one of them was visibly slower than the rest of the group. It was keeping close all the time to Flappy.

All-day long, what we have filmed and photographed was that the group (including the “sick” animals) were hunted down by the dinghies. They separate the animals, cut calves away from their mothers and get in between pods constantly.

Basically, there is no way of doing actual whale watching anymore. People are floating around in the water without visibility markers. They are far away from their “support boats”, going in the way of the other boats. Boats are taking over and cutting in front of each other to get closer to the whales, they also cut the whales in front so they can drop the people in the water closer. Our guests were disturbed to see what was going on because it was literally looking like the wild west.

I absolutely cannot imagine what the animals can go through, but I am sure that all this puts an immense amount of stress on them.

Honestly, I already got to the point that I feel bad each day when we go out, some of the boats, what they are doing is pure animal harassment. Of course, respect every single one of them, who respects the animals. Very few of them though…

It is very sad that Norway does not have any regulations to protect these animals. It is visible that people have gone mad.

As a guide, my job has become to explain the behaviour of the other boats, rather than talking about the animals. We are constantly getting questions on the boat, like what is happening? Why is that boat going in front of them? Why is that boat chasing them? And so on.

This is extremely disappointing. I am not sure what the guests on these snorkelling boats feel, but I am sure that everyone, who loves these animals have a broken heart watching and participating in this.

Once again in my view, this is pure animal harassment.

I know that we have done snorkelling before too. We already saw 2 years ago, that the animals are disturbed, and we decided to stop this activity (snorkelling). But, NOT in my worst dreams, I would have imagined one day I will see what I have seen today and basically every single day in the current season.

For me, the worst is that people do NOT care about safety. That’s one thing not to care about the animals, but from what we could see other people’s safety is also the last thing on their list. They risk the lives of themselves (that is their problem), but the life of others too.

We have very disturbing videos and pictures, which are quite sad to see. I never would have thought that this activity will take such a bad turn.

-Krisztina

All photos are cropped.

2 thoughts on “A Sad Day – 14/11/21

  1. Isn’t there a way to start to contact the government? Here in Wa state in the Inited States whale watching boats are required to be 300yds yds from any whales. It is strictly enforced in the US because of the Marine Mammal Protection Act here in the US, I feel it is urgent that something be done.

    1. Hi Deanna, not that we know of at this time. This isn’t a new problem and is talked about quite often so our hope is that regulations will come soon but right now it does not seem to be a priority sadly.

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