Whale Watching From The Shore

Whales are really cool! I don’t live anywhere remotely close to whale watching of any kind, so I only get to see whales if I’m on vacation or traveling near the ocean.

The Whale Trail  organization (not the video game) is providing interpretive signs and other aides to promote shore based whale and marine mammal watching on the West Coast of North America. (This group believes that watching from shore is less invasive than chasing them with boats.)

The trail is built on local knowledge. As Executive Director Donna Sandstrom says, local people know the best locations and times, and what to expect to see, and can help people recognize passing wildlife.

I think this effort lies at the intersection of “entertainment”, “education” and “citizen science”, (There may be political component, too, when conservation policy is contended.)

This group has built a community of people, through a combination of digital networking and local, in person, experiences. The second is by far the most important. There is a website with useful information—how else would I know about it, 3,000km inland?—but the heart of the matter is local sites. You have to be here, now. Furthermore, each location is different.

I haven’t visited any of the official Whale Trail sites (as far as I know), though I have visited some of the places, and I have seen whales from shore (and once, very memorably, from directly above in a propjet approaching an airport!)

I can also testify to the magnificent success of the 1972 US law that protects marine mammals. As a boy, I visited the coast of Oregon before the law, and I saw only a few marine mammals, in rather bedraggled colonies. In the years since, I have seen more, and more seals, sea lions, and, of course whales. And they are bold and unafraid of humans. It has been an amazing success.

I’m going to bookmark The Whale Trail, and check it out the next time I visit that coast.

  1. The Whale Trail. the whale trail | To inspire appreciation and stewardship of whales and our marine environment. 2017, http://thewhaletrail.org/.
  2. Tom Wilmer, The Whale Trail—from B.C. to Baja—great whale watching spots identified, in Journeys of Discovery with Tom Wilmer. 2017. http://kcbx.org/post/whale-trail-bc-baja-great-whale-watching-spots-identified


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