Responsible whale watching: What does it mean?

Whale Watching

Sea World Cruises are proud to be certified in responsible whale watching with an Advanced ECO Certification. As a leader in ecotourism, we have a high standard in our operations and a duty of care to animals and the environment. This is important to conserve the natural beauty of the Gold Coast bay and keep its wild inhabitants safe for future generations.

Who is Ecotourism Australia?

Formed in 1991, Ecotourism Australia aims to promote environmentally sustainable and culturally responsible tourism. They define their definition of ecotourism as:

“Ecotourism is ecologically sustainable tourism with a primary focus on experiencing natural areas that foster environmental and cultural understanding, appreciation and conservation.”

Its focus is on conserving the local environment and historical heritage while supporting the culture and encouraging people to look after the natural resources that attract them to the region.

What is Ecotourism?

Ecotourism aims to preserve the integrity of the destination. Its focus is on conserving the local environment and historical heritage while supporting the culture and encouraging people to look after the natural resources that attract them to the region. Sea World Cruises holds an Advanced ECO Certification, meaning Ecotourism Australia has independently assessed us as one of the nation’s leading and most innovative ecotourism operators.

What makes our whale watching sustainable?

Sea World Cruises adhere to best practices for whale and dolphin watching. This includes guidelines, ethics, and ideas that ensure services provided are conducted in a manner that:

– Minimises negative impacts on marine life, including whales, dolphins, and the environment.
– Results in high levels of customer satisfaction.
– Positively benefits local communities and the environment.
– Educates and inspires the public and the wider tourism industry.

Our skippers are trained in precautionary boat handling to reduce disturbance on wildlife to an absolute minimum. We offer educational commentary to inspire our guests to coexist with marine life authentically and respectfully.  

Sustainability and pollution

Did you know humpback whales and all other marine life are affected by underwater noise pollution? We have designed all of our whale watching vessels to operate with smaller, quieter engines that reduce acoustic pollution and produce fewer carbon emissions.  They are also equipped with mini-keels to prevent harm to marine wildlife and habitats from propellers. A pump-out facility has been installed at our terminal to discharge wastewater onshore, not at sea. We employ a Garbage Management System, minimising single-use plastics and recycling and composting of waste.

Cultural heritage

We acknowledge and pay respect to the Yugambeh people, the traditional owners of the land and sea on which we operate. We conduct cultural heritage training with our staff and include cultural heritage as part of our whale watching cruises, including commentary using traditional names of animals and locations. We are an equal opportunity employer and a member of the QTIC Indigenous Champions Network, an initiative to ensure indigenous people are active participants and valued members of our business and the broader tourism industry.

Whale knowledge

Our crew are experts on humpback whales, going through intensive learning to understand whale behaviour. Reading and predicting behaviour is an important skill when it comes to whale interactions. This is important when interacting with whales. It helps the crew determine which individuals would like to be approached and like us to stay away. Most whales are curious to humans; however, some would instead prefer to be kept at a distance. Our skippers abide by maritime law in keeping the minimum distance between the whale and the vessel.

Griffith University partnership

Sea World Cruises have a close partnership with Griffith Centre for Coastal Management to further our understanding of whales and their role in marine ecosystems. With multiple whale watching tours each day, Sea World Cruises offers opportunities to gather essential data on migrating whales. Recent projects include fluke identification catalogues, long-term monitoring of Humpback whales in South East Queensland and studying newborn calves in the Gold Coast.

Cruise amongst the whales with the Gold Coast’s most advanced and eco-friendly cruise company this 2021 whale watching season.


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