A label aimed at strengthening the rules of whale approaches and making the observation activity more sustainable
For the 5th year, the Mata Tohora association is mandated by the Department of the Environment to ensure that the whales approach is done in accordance with the rules of approach of marine mammals provided by the code of the environment.
This year, the association launches a label to reinforce the rules of approach of the whales and to provide a calmer and reassuring framework to these animals who often go to the Polynesian waters for the farrowing and are then particularly vulnerable against their predators.
Among the most restrictive measures are the number of boats surrounding the whale limited to 6 instead of 12 for unlabeled boats, the observation limited to one hour while the environmental code provides no limit…
For launching, groups in the water must not exceed 12 people, are accompanied by a guide and must remain grouped by moving in the same direction and staying on the same side as the boats. In addition, swimmers must remain motionless in the viewing area, and bottlenecks and apneas are prohibited in the presence of marine mammals, with swimmers remaining on the surface.
It is even forbidden to go in the water when the animals are moving, that they are close to the passes, in the lagoon or within 100 meters of the reef.
This is also the case if the mammal has too much activity, such as jumps or fin strikes. Customers should not get in the water too if the calf is too young.
“If we continue to behave irresponsibly with whales, there will come a time when they will not come anymore”
If the charter guarantees more tranquility to cetaceans, it will not please all customers who generally want to get closer to mammals.
“If it puts a person away from being able to get closer to the whale, I prefer not to have it on my boat. If we continue to behave irresponsibly with whales, there will come a time when they will not come”, says Aurélie Cottier, of Kumbaka apnea, one of the first to be labeled.
Last year, for the first time, the crackdown was triggered. After repeatedly reproducing disrespectful approaches, despite repeated instructions, justice has been seized.
They are thus about ten to have been the subject of a recall to the law by the prosecutor. In case of recidivism, the penalty should be heavier. In her desire to stay positive, Mata Tohora prefers carrots to the bat.