The term “bucket list” has never been more controversial than it is today. With social media revealing the naked truths of many animal activities, encounters and experiences from around the globe, more and more of us animal lovers are left wondering who we can trust and what is morally right. Can you blame us?
Ready, set, GO!
February this year had me more excited than ever. You’d think I’d have been stressed during my final year at university, but the pressures of my dissertation deadline had me take a rather unusual route. By this, I mean I took a week away from my studies and booked a trip to Reykjavik, Iceland. With a packed itinerary of exciting things to do and beautiful things to see , I was adamant that I would not allow myself to get back on the plane home until I had been whale watching.
The seas were calm at first. The wind… non-existent. It began to snow lightly as our ship, along with two others compacted us visitors like sardines in a tin as we set sail. However, the further out at sea we sailed, the darker the clouds turned above us and the experience I had waited years to face soon turned into a disheartening reality. From expecting visions of mighty minke and humpback whales swimming calmly in their natural habitat, instead I found myself in the middle of a rather inconsiderate and wild witch hunt.
Throughout the chase, our captain explained how whales had started to leave the area, with more opting to do so each year. It easy to see why. Despite also discovering that the country’s delicacy is minke whale (found in most local restaurants), in our two hour trip, the ships managed to corner and chase a mother minke whale with her baby to the point of exhaustion. Through radios, the three ships devised their tactics to surround the whale duo so that we customers could gain the best sights possible. At no time was there any regard for the whale’s welfare and worse, the welfare of that baby.
Experiences such as this have now led wildlife experts to study the negative impacts of whale watching and how it is affecting whale behaviours, such as the abandonment of areas like I experienced on my tour back in February. This has resulted in whales swimming in areas that are low on prey for them to hunt, whilst whale watches themselves are continuing to cause stress, exhaustion with injuries and deaths from boat collisions becoming common incidents also.
Don’t get me wrong, Reykjavik is a beautiful city. It was safe to venture out at night and there are so many natural wonders to experience, such as The Blue Lagoon and astonishing Northern Lights. Definitely things to add on your “bucket lists.” However, for future reference, it’s important that we once again check before we buy when it comes to animal excursions. I’m sure there are plenty of perfectly fine Whale Watching experiences out there, but it just takes some research to find them. Trust the reviews that base their experience on the welfare of the animals and not those who want the best sighting
Oh and for those who were wondering… The seas were so rough on the day of my tour that the majority of people didn’t even see a whale. Is the slim chance of seeing a whale worth the welfare of these amazing creatures? I think the answer’s obvious.
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