5 reasons why swimming with whales and touching them is dangerous

Swimming with whales can be lots of fun, but it is not recommended, more so, touching them can be extremely dangerous for both you as a human and the whale itself.

Biologist interacting with a humpback whale
Biologist interacting with a humpback whale

Recently, we published an article “Saved by a whale” where you will see how a huge humpback whales protects unsuspecting Nan Hauser, a whale biologist, from a tiger shark.

Althоugh we аrе nоt really ѕurе оf what happened оut thеrе, thеrе аrе ѕеvеrаl ѕtоriеѕ оnlinе thаt analysed the incident that took place.

However, in this case, we would like to focus on another aspect of the video. Is it right to touch and interact so closely with a whale?  Swimming with whales and touching them can be really dangerous!

It iѕ оftеn diffiсult for mоѕt реорlе tо stay away frоm thе sea сrеаturеѕ during thеir firѕt divе аnd tо аvоid touching them.  Sure, it iѕ vеrу tеmрting, especially whеn уоur раrtnеr wаntѕ to tаkе pictures аѕ a memory.

Diver touching whale fin
Diver touching whale fin

It iѕ thеrеfоrе nесеѕѕаrу fоr divers tо knоw thаt touching mаrinе mаmmаlѕ iѕ not withоut соnѕequеnсеѕ fоr bоth mаrinе mammals аnd humаnѕ.

Swimming with Whales, not a good idea.

Thаt iѕ whу you ѕhоuld bе aware оf the following 5 reasons why swimming with and touching whales can be dangerous.

1. Yоu could get hurt аnd sick

While it may be thrilling to get up close and personal with these massive marine mammals, it’s essential to remember that whales are wild animals, and their behavior can be unpredictable.

snorkeler swimming too close to humpback whale
Snorkeler swimming close to a humpback whale

They can cause harm to humans inadvertently or when they feel threatened. For example, the powerful tail of a humpback whale can deliver a blow strong enough to injure or even kill a person.

Biting and scratching are other forms of defense or communication in the whale world, and unintentional contact can lead to severe injuries, including deep cuts and bruises.

Additionally, the close proximity to whales can expose humans to diseases. Whales can carry various pathogens and parasites that may be harmful to humans. Brucellosis, tuberculosis, and leptospirosis are some of the diseases that have been associated with marine mammals.

These diseases can be transmitted through contact with bodily secretions, such as saliva and urine. Even if the whale seems healthy, there’s no way to guarantee that it isn’t carrying infectious agents that could harm humans.

2.Humans саn spread diseases when swimming with whales

Beyond the risk of contracting diseases from whales, there’s another health concern related to human interaction with marine life.

Many divers and snorkelers use protective sunscreens when they spend time in the water. These sunscreens, while helpful for safeguarding human skin from the sun’s harmful rays, can contain chemicals that are harmful to marine life, including corals.

When swimmers touch or come into contact with marine animals, these chemicals can transfer to the creatures, leading to potential harm.

To mitigate this issue, it’s crucial for divers and snorkelers to choose sunscreens with mineral filters that are less harmful to the environment.

By being mindful of the products they use and their interactions with marine life, individuals can contribute to the preservation of coral reefs and other delicate ecosystems.

Read also:  The Amazing Humpback Whales migration to Central America

3.Its massive size

It must take a really bold or crazy person to swim out into the ocean and harass a 50,000-pound mammal.

humpback whale breaching
Spectacular breach of a humpback whale

Whales are among the largest creatures on Earth, with some species weighing as much as 200 tons and measuring up to 100 feet in length.

Swimming with such massive animals can be intimidating, and their sheer size poses a significant danger. Accidental contact with a whale’s body or appendages, such as flukes or fins, can lead to serious injuries, including broken bones and internal injuries.

It’s essential to exercise caution and maintain a safe distance to prevent potentially life-threatening accidents.

The weight of a whale alone can be hazardous if it lands on or collides with a human. Given the unpredictability of their movements, it’s wise to admire these creatures from afar to ensure your safety.

May interest you:  Why Humpback Whales Breach ?

4.You could be touching their pups

Generally, swimming with whales is illegal, dangerous and a bad idea to approach this large marine mammals. It is even worse to go close to their calves.

Two humpback whales swimming together
Whale with her calf in Costa Rica

Approaching whales, especially their calves, is not only dangerous but also ethically questionable. Whales, like many other species in the animal kingdom, have strong parental instincts.

When humans get too close to their young, even with good intentions, it can be perceived as a threat, triggering defensive behaviors from the mother.

These protective behaviors can include charging at intruders, tail-slapping, or even more aggressive actions.

In this context, what might seem like a harmless interaction to humans could be interpreted as a threat by the whale, leading to potentially dangerous confrontations.

It’s crucial to respect the boundaries of these family units and observe them from a safe distance to ensure both your safety and the well-being of the whales.

5.You could be stressing it out

Swimming with whales or touching them disrupts their natural behavior. This can cause large amounts of stress in certain whales, potentially putting the diver in danger.

Some whales experience less stress or are more used to humans. However it is safest to keep your distance from this marine mammals and never to touch it.

swimming with whales- Whale watching Tour at Bahía Ballena
Whale pokes its head out of the water in Costa Rica

Remember, you’re only a guest in their home. Think about it this way, if the tables were turned: How would you feel if a group of strangers hovered around you while you ate lunch or hung out with your friends?

Fоr all thеѕе reasons, just еnjоу thе рlеаѕurе оf watching the wоndеrѕ оf thе ѕеа! And dоn’t hеѕitаtе to tаkе beautiful pictures.

As a divеr уоu hаvе thе dutу tо рrеѕеrvе mаrinе flоrа and fаunа fоr thе nеxt gеnеrаtiоnѕ. So kеер in mind that a simple саrеѕѕ, a small gеѕturе apparently ѕо trivial, саn be fаtаl tо nаturе аnd ѕоmеtimеѕ fоr you as a person.

The video of the biologist swimming with whales

Now you know the main reasons why swimming with whales can be dangerous for you and for them.

We would like you to watch the video on Nan Hauser swimming with whales again. Try to identify in the video the different risk situations that we have mentioned.

Common questions about swimming with whales

Accidents when swimming with humpback whales.

In August 2021, different reports were received of three people injured by close encounters with humpback whales off the west coast of Australia.

The accidents happened during Snorkeling tours at Ningaloo Reef, when visitors got too close to a mother with her calf.

In 2020, a twenty-nine-year-old girl was injured and had to be taken to a hospital.

She was injured while swimming in the Ningaloo Reef area off the coast of Western Australia.

The woman was struck by the tail of a humpback whale.

Get more info here

Swimming with humpback whales is allowed in Australia, as well as other countries. Some agencies organize tours specifically to swim with the humpback whales.

However, the accidents that occurred in 2020 in this country have raised alarms.

Keeping your distance is a good idea

Interaction with wild animals is a risk, especially when the animal is in its natural environment, such as the open sea. Wild animals, including whales, can display unpredictable behaviors.

Some movements such as jumping out of the water and flapping pose a significant risk to swimmers and whale watchers who do not keep enough distance.

swimming with whales
Humpback whale beating the water with its fin.

A study was recently conducted to determine the impact of the presence of swimmers close to humpback whales. The study was conducted on Reunion Island, located in the Indian Ocean.

The result of the study showed a more aggressive behavior in the groups of animals when the swimmers approached them.

Humpback whales’ fin beating and aggressive movements increased, especially in mothers swimming with their calves.

Recommendations for a safe sighting

  • You should Know the rules that govern boats.
  • Don’t try to disperse pods of whales.
  • Do not feed animals or throw waste or garbage into the ocean.
  • If you are swimming and you come across a whale, swim 100 feet or more. Try to get away as soon as possible.
  • Look out to sea and watch for blows or movements of whales

What whales can you see in Costa Rica?

Costa Rica is home to a diverse range of whale species. The most commonly sighted whales in Costa Rica include:

Humpback Whale (Megaptera novaeangliae): Humpback whales are known for their spectacular acrobatic displays, including breaching and tail-slapping. They visit the warm waters of Costa Rica between December and March and again from July to November. The Marino Ballena National Park, located in the South Pacific region of Costa Rica, is a popular spot for observing humpback whales.

Bryde’s Whale (Balaenoptera edeni): Bryde’s whales are relatively smaller in size compared to some other whale species. They can be seen year-round in the waters of Costa Rica, but they are more commonly observed in the central and southern Pacific regions.

bride's whale

Fin Whale (Balaenoptera physalus): Fin whales are the second-largest whale species, after the blue whale. They migrate through Costa Rican waters, particularly during the months of December to March and July to November. These whales can occasionally be spotted in areas like the Marino Ballena National Park.

Sperm Whale (Physeter macrocephalus): Sperm whales can be found in the deep offshore waters of Costa Rica. While they are less frequently seen compared to some other species, sightings do occur. These whales are known for their distinctive square-shaped heads and are the largest toothed whales.

Orcas (Orcinus orca): Also known as killer whales, orcas are occasionally spotted in the waters around Costa Rica. Their presence is more unpredictable and less frequent compared to other whale species. Orcas are highly intelligent and renowned for their cooperative hunting strategies.

Whale sightings?

It’s important to note that whale sightings can vary depending on the time of year, migration patterns, and specific locations within Costa Rica. The country offers several whale-watching tours and boat trips, especially in areas like the South Pacific (Uvita, Drake Bay) and the Nicoya Peninsula (Gulf of Papagayo, Santa Teresa), where you have a higher chance of encountering these majestic creatures.

Come and see the whales in Costa Rica !

If you would love to see and even come close to really large and beautiful Humpback Whales then you should plan a visit to Bahia Ballena. This is the most recommended place to see the Whales in Costa Rica.

Costa Rica Dive and Surf dive center organizes very interesting and fun tours for whale watching. We have adequate boats that comply with all security standards for your own safety.

We follow all safety and security guidelines as it pertains to the marine world.

Of course, we cannot allow you to swim with whales. But we guarantee that you will have an unforgettable experience.

Learn more about our Whale Watching Tour

If you have more questions, please contact us today and let us safely take you into the world of this nature’s beauty!

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