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Two New Whale Heritage Sites Join Hervey Bay In Major Step For Wildlife Protection

January 28, 2021 Responsible Tourism No Comments

Tenerife-La Gomera Marine area in Tenerife, Spain and Dana Point in California have been awarded the prestigious accolade of becoming the first Whale Heritage Sites in Europe and the Americas, respectively.

They join only two other Whale Heritage Sites in the world, Hervey Bay here in Australia and The Bluff in South Africa. Hervey Bay was the first site to be awarded the accreditation, which was announced in October 2019.

Whale Heritage Sites are a global accreditation scheme developed by the World Cetacean Alliance and supported by World Animal Protection, recognising outstanding destinations for responsible wild whale and dolphin watching.

Like Hervey Bay, the site in Tenerife has long been a popular spot to see both whales and dolphins in the wild, and Dana Point, named the Dolphin and Whale Watching Capital of the World®, is one of the best places to view the magnificent Blue Whale.

Whale Heritage Site status provides tourists with an easy way to select responsible whale and dolphin watching destinations, so they can experience cetaceans in their natural habitat and in an authentic and respectful way.

Elizabeth Cuevas, Whale Heritage Sites Manager at World Cetacean Alliance, said:

“These sites are a wonderful step forward for responsible tourism, by encouraging local people and visiting tourists to celebrate the importance of whales, dolphins and marine conservation.”

By raising the prominence of these opportunities, particularly near captivity hotpots, World Animal Protection hopes they can reduce the demand to see dolphins in tanks.

Nick Stewart, Global Head of Campaigns at World Animal Protection, said:

“These new Whale Heritage Sites are immensely important in the protection of wildlife because they showcase a viable, sustainable alternative to wildlife entertainment activities.

“The sites will also help to spotlight tour operators who offer tourists a wonderful experience seeing whales and dolphins in the wild while protecting the welfare of marine wildlife.

“In the 21st century, as the world builds back from Covid-19, the tourism industry should strive towards offering activities that are wildlife-friendly and protect the environment.”

To qualify for this global accreditation, candidate destinations must meet set criteria which recognises their commitment to cetacean conservation through responsible wildlife interactions and sustainability. These include:

  • Encouraging respectful human-cetacean coexistence
  • Celebrating cetaceans
  • Environmental, social and economic sustainability
  • Research, education and awareness

In meeting Whale Heritage Site criteria, sites must take into account information relating to the relevant local cetacean populations including their status, numbers, biology, habitat, behaviour and welfare. It offers the travel industry a way to protect marine wildlife and support sustainable practices.

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