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Watching the whales

24 October 2006

Do you know a fluke from a flipper or which country is best to spot a humpback whale? A new book from the Natural History Museum, Whale Watcher by Trevor Day, reveals these answers and many more.

Whale Watcher book

Whale Watcher is a global guide to watching whales, dophins and porpoises in the wild and shows you how to identify the different species as well as exploring the latest research on these animals.

After years of hunting, with some whale species coming close to extinction, most whales are now internationally protected. Our fascination with these magnificent creatures is growing all the time and whale watching is now one of the fastest-growing tourist activities in the world.

Tips for whale watching

If you are lucky enough to be going on a whale-watching trip, Trevor Day has some tips to help make it a success.

'Ask yourself why you are going and what you're hoping to see,' says Trevor. 'This will help you plan most effectively'.

'Make sure you join a reputable operator. You want to be safe and you want the wildlife you are watching to be as safe and undisturbed as possible.'

Trevor adds how important it is to research the species you are likely to see. 'Have you chosen a good time of year, and the best time of day to go?' For example, eastern Australia is great for seeing humpback whales as they are migrating in the waters between May and November.

Recording your information is very important too, any new information you gather adds to our limited understanding of whales and their behaviour.

Always do all you can to allow the whale to behave as naturally as possible, without interference. Trevor says, 'Whale watching is an "eyes on, hands off" activity, so don't attempt to touch or feed the animals you see. Stay quiet.'

Read the top whale-watching tips from Trevor Day .