Aside from the fabulous weather and attractions, San Diego draws visitors from all over to see the marine wildlife. From the playful seals and sea lions to the migrating humpback and blue whales, the ocean is a treasure trove of nature’s grandeur and deserving of care and conservation efforts to keep these amazing sea mammals alive and well for generations. That’s why it’s so important to follow the federal guidelines for whale watching San Diego, both from the land and on the water. Here is what you need to know about viewing marine wildlife.

Federal Protection

Thanks to the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972, the wildlife that so many people love have protection to help them thrive. That means that any harassment of marine mammals, from harassing sea lions on shore to boating too close to whales, violates federal law.

Common Sense

Federal law aside, you should be respectful while viewing sea mammals in their natural habitats. After all, you are in their home, and you should consider the effect your presence has on their lives. Even the best San Diego whale watching tour still encroaches on their environment, so be cognizant of that fact.

Double Standards

Remember that you don’t get to go right up to any marine mammal for a closer look, no matter how much you love them. Boats are required to stay at least 100 yards from whales and 50 yards from dolphins. Whales can be curious and approach boats on their own, but the boat operator has additional requirements to keep the animals safe if they are close.

Wearing Out Your Welcome

The ocean isn’t a zoo; it’s an ecosystem that you have entered. Keep that in mind when you join a tour; most boats can only stay in one area for thirty minutes or less to limit the disruption their presence causes. Think of it this way: would you want someone to come to your house and stare at you all day? The whales don’t want that either.

Coming in Droves

Another factor to consider, even if you are incredibly excited about San Diego whale sightings, is that you aren’t the only one. Boats come and go all day to see marine wildlife, and if everyone stayed for a long time, the animals would have a difficult time surviving. Your tour operator knows the right place and time to see whales and other sea life to get you a good view without disturbing them too much.

Special Diets

Do you know what seals, whales, and dolphins eat? Here’s a hint: it’s nothing you have. Don’t ever feed wildlife, whether on land or on the sea. Not only is people food not healthy for marine mammals, it can also encourage them to seek out humans for food, which can impact their natural ability to survive on their own.

Set a Course

A reputable tour company is on top of the federal regulations and adjusts their tour schedule accordingly while educating their visitors on best viewing practices. When you book your tour, ask any questions you may have about wildlife safety and conservation efforts. It’s up to everyone to protect these majestic creatures.