There's nothing like the thrill of seeing a whale in the wild. But while many whale lovers pay for close-up encounters by boat, an increasing number of eco-minded tourists are opting for experiences from shore. It's a natural response to growing concern that whale-watching boat traffic may be harmful to the animals themselves.
In several West Coast communities, including Friday Harbor, Washington, and Moss Beach, California, researchers have been encouraging people to head to coastal bluffs that overlook popular whale thoroughfares.
Watching from shore has benefits for humans as well as whales. Bluffs are often more easily accessible to the public, and no boat trips means no motion sickness. But perhaps most important is the satisfaction of not disturbing these gentle creatures during their daily activities.