In 2016, Rudee Tours and Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center joined Whale SENSE, a voluntary responsible whale watching program.
The local whale watching season runs from January to March, when the humpback whales migrate through the mid-Atlantic from their northeast summer feeding grounds to their calving and nursery grounds located in the eastern Caribbean.
By choosing a company with Whale SENSE, whale watchers can be assured that their exhilarating experiences with the whales are not interfering with the whales’ natural behaviors.
Whale SENSE participants follow viewing guidelines by reducing speeds, keeping a safe distance, and communicating with other vessels. They also pledge to advertise responsibly by captioning pictures to inform their passengers of how whales are protected.
In addition, Whale SENSE participants receive annual training on whale protection laws, and participate in environmental conservation projects, such as beach clean-ups or sponsoring internship programs.
In the event that they see a marine animal in distress, they call it in to authorized responders, and when possible, stand by the animal until rescuers arrive.
Whale SENSE is sponsored by NOAA Fisheries and Whale and Dolphin Conservation. To find out if a whale watch company participates in the program, look for the Whale SENSE logo on participating vessels.
source: NOAA Fisheries Greater Atlantic Region Fisheries Office