Last weekend Whales Alive conducted a weekend long training program for whale and dolphin watching operators and guides. We were even featured in the local Byron newspaper, The Echo.
The following is a press release from the event and the group picture of our awesome participants.
Cape Byron Whale Watching Training Workshop
Spectators at The Pass last Friday had the opportunity to view the first humpback whale for the season as BOB, the inflatable training aid belonging to research organisation Whales Alive, demonstrated approach distance regulations for whale watching tour operators.
A specialised training workshop including classroom and on-water sessions was conducted by Whales Alive and Cape Byron Marine Park (CBMP) on Thursday 5th and Friday 6th of May, for whale and dolphin watching operators and guides representing the five local dive, kayak and charter companies.
The training was delivered by Olive Andrews, Program Director of Whales Alive, who has 12 years experience delivering similar training workshops for governments and industry in Australia and throughout the Pacific and Caribbean Islands, and Dr Liz Hawkins, Leader of Southern Cross University’s Dolphin Ecology and Acoustics Project, which underpins the management and conservation of dolphins in the CBMP.
“As the 2011 whale season approaches, Whales Alive and Cape Byron Marine Park are working together to maximise public education about the natural history of whales and dolphins and minimise any potential impacts on the animals from tourism activities in The Bay” Ms Andrews said.
Cape Byron Marine Park Manager Andrew Page said “The workshop was run to encourage compliance in light of the growth of the marine mammal tourism industry on the North Coast, but also in response to requests from tourism operators for information about responsible whale watching”.
“We commend the local operators for showing leadership in the regulation of their own industry and advancing their knowledge of marine mammals. Byron is one of the better examples in the industry of whale watching operators working in collaboration with scientists and government agencies” said Ms Andrews.
“In other parts of Australia, tourism activities have been linked to decreased reproductive success of the animals so it’s important we comply with whale and dolphin watching regulations, which are designed to allow the animals space to conduct behaviours critical to their survival like feeding, breeding and resting” said Dr Hawkins.
Whales Alive will be partnering with Marine Parks again in June to offer a free public presentation about the biology and conservation of marine mammals to the Byron Bay public. There will also be a benefit concert ‘Whalesong’ involving leading Australian blues artists to support Whales Alive’s research programs at the Great Northern Hotel on Friday 24th June. Stay tuned to The Echo for details.