Whale Watching Around The World Part 13
The first remedy is prevention. Avoid alcoholic beverages with dinner the night before and go to bed early. The next morning, have a nongreasy, high-protein breakfast. Along with other supplies for the day, tuck some crackers and a carbonated beverage (in a nonbreakable container) into your daypack. Check with a doctor or pharmacist about the most effective and least sedating motion sickness drugs. Many veteran whale watchers feel that it is better to be a little drowsy than seasick. Many of these medications need to be taken prior to boarding a boat and are useless once a person is seasick.
Dress for Success
Weather on whale-watching adventures varies enormously, from frigid rain in Alaska to tropical heat in Baja. As with any extended time outdoors, layered clothing is a good idea. Cotton is infamous for losing its insulation value when wet, so wear cotton for comfort but don't depend on it for warmth. Over a cotton T-shirt, layer a polypropylene or wool shirt and a sweater. Since even land-based whale watching can be windy, bring a weather-resistant shell for the top layer. And be sure to bring rain gear, because many boats do not have covered decks. Toss in wool or fleece gloves and a hat for colder whale watches. In warmer climates, a cap helps protect against the sun and is also useful to secure hair.
Remember, too, that the wind and ocean glare can contribute to a mean sunburn. Apply a sunblock of at least SPF 15 before heading out, and reapply it every few hours or after a swim.
Ride in Style or Paddle a Kayak
Whale-watching trips are available in all kinds of vessels, and range from a half day to a couple of weeks or longer. Since there is never a guarantee that whales will be found, travelers should select trips based on personal preferences and budgets. But how to choose? Tropical or arctic? Offshore or inshore? Guided or unguided?
Large boats with viewing platforms elevated some distance above the water usually offer comfortable and dry whale watching. These observation decks are common in places like Alaska and Cape Cod. In tropical locales such as Baja California, the Bahamas and Dominica, boats have covered decks that shield watchers from the hot sun.
Tours with knowledgeable, trained naturalists on board are a considerable step up from, say, a charter fishing captain who is willing to run folks out to look at whales in lieu of fishing. Smaller boats with a naturalist for a captain are potentially the best option for an exceptional boat-based whale-watching trip. A number of nonprofit educational organizations, such as the Pacific Whale Foundation, offer whale-watching tours with onboard naturalists and are probably the best bet for a quality experience.
All operators should prominently display a master's license; if they can't produce one, look elsewhere for a tour. And avoid any operator who suggests pursuing whales in any fashion. Whale-watching boats are required by law to stay 100 yards from whales, and even farther away in sensitive areas such as feeding, mating, or calving grounds.
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