Whale-watching cruises in the De Gi Sea are on the rise, raising concerns

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The presence of whales attracts visitors to De Gi (Photo: CBES)

Whale watching cruises in De Gi are becoming increasingly popular

Whales have been sighted along De Gi estuary, Cat Khanh commune, Phu Cat district (Binh Dinh) and areas of Vung Boi, Vinh Loi, My Thanh commune, of Phu My (Binh Dinh) since the end of July. The sight of this unique fish has attracted tourists from all over the world, photographers and several scientific professionals.

According to the People’s Committee of Cat Khanh Commune, Phu Cat District, the number of visitors visiting De Gi sea area to see blue whales has increased significantly over the past 10 days. Many boats that were once used for fishing are now employed to ferry visitors to see the whales in this area. Each train costs between 1.2 and 1.5 million VND.

The sequence of photographs and videos of mother and young whales in De Gi has gone viral on social media. However, many travel organizations or people involved in tourism publish marketing for whale watching cruises on the De Gi Sea, many of which are impromptu tours.

Last weekend, Ha Dieu Anh (Dong Nai) and his family went to Binh Dinh. She had previously seen an advertisement for a whale watching tour that cost 650,000 VND per person, which included the cost of paddling for whale watching and serving lunch.

“There were 8 tourists, 1 driver, 1 co-driver and no tour guides. I signed up for the whole family after seeing an advert. The two drivers and their helper had little knowledge of tourism to share with clients ”

Ms. Dieu Anh said. she continued, “I went online to read some facts to present to my kids.”

Dieu Anh’s family is disappointed because the trip did not go as planned. “Fortunately, the boat driver and his assistant are both locals. They are honest and incredibly grateful to the whales, despite not being into tourism. They always tell people not to throw waste, not to approach the boat too close to the whale, “Mrs. said God Anh.

Many people fear that the sudden emergence of whale watching trips could endanger the mother and offspring of whales in De Gi.

Photographer and travel blogger Ngo Tran Hai An (Qui Coc Tu) – the owner of a series of whale photos taken in De Gi that sparked a social media frenzy – said: “We should limit our distance when we see or photograph whales. Ships and boats should be parked away from whales to avoid noise and harm to them.”

Mr. Do Thanh Toan (Toan Tommy, 37, tour guide), one of the first people to discover and post photos of whales in De Gi, refused to go on whale watching tours about a month. Mr Toan revealed: “When I first spotted the 6, 7 whales, I wanted to share this wonderful photo with the rest of the community. I also took several visitors on a whale watching tour. Still, when I realized there were only two whales left, I worried that too many boats would panic the whales, endangering their safety and their lives,” Toan said.

Tourists and photographers visit De Gi to see the whales (Photo: Ngo Tran Hai An)

According to Toan, contemporary whale watching tourism activities are mostly spontaneous. As a result, locals and visitors should be concerned about environmental and whale conservation. “I am a local from De Gi who is also interested in tourism. I want to pursue sustainable tourism and preserve the environment, not for economic reasons,” Toan said.

Recommendations from the authorities

The Binh Dinh Provincial Fisheries Department recently collaborated with the Center for the Conservation of Biodiversity and Endangered Species (CBES) to undertake a field survey in the De Gi sea area to verify information on whales. CBSE specialists determined that the whales recently spotted in the De Gi Sea were Bryde’s whales. This species is listed in Appendix 1 of CITES, which prohibits international trade and transport; the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Fauna CMS; and VU (at risk) level in accordance with Decision 82/2008 of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development on Announcing the List of Rare and Endangered Aquatic Species in Vietnam to be Protected, Restored and Developed.

According to scientists from the CBES survey team, the mission recorded hundreds of spontaneous visitors arriving to watch the whales during four days of research in the seas of De Gi. “The arrival of whales in the De Gi Seas, if managed and protected effectively, can bring major benefits to tourism activities for the local community. On the contrary, if management measures are not implemented, the level of overpopulation could have negative repercussions for both whales and humans. Although bryde whales are friendly natural creatures, they have an impulse to protect themselves if disturbed or attacked. This impulse is stronger in female whales that raise young “- advise scientists.

Bride’s whales communicate through infrasound (sounds with frequencies below 20Hz), according to CBES experts. Noise from ship engines can interfere with whales’ ability to hear, creating stress. If the situation persists, mother and newborns may flee or venture into unsuitable environments to avoid human contact. In the worst case, they can become stranded due to stress and disorientation. In addition, the presence of too many passenger vessels (especially high-speed dinghies) in the whale feeding area could lead to ship-whale collisions. These encounters frequently result in lasting impairment or even death of the whales.

Photo: Ngo Tran Hai An

Although the study team found no evidence of injury by whales in the De Gi Sea, they nevertheless urge the authorities to take immediate action to manage and maintain this rare marine mammal.

According to Mr. Tran Van Phuc, Director of Binh Dinh Agriculture and Rural Development Department, once the whales emerged regularly in De Gi sea area, Binh Dinh Provincial Fisheries Department requested boats and services. To avoid harm to fish, whale watching tourism should maintain a safe distance of at least 100 meters. At the same time, vessels navigating through their feeding grounds must exercise caution to avoid hitting or being hit by whales.

According to Mr. Tran Van Thanh, director of the Binh Dinh tourism department, this unit has carried out communication operations to promote images of whales in the De Gi Sea to introduce the province’s marine tourism. The Department of Tourism, on the other hand, works with other agencies and cities to educate tourists about whale preservation and environmental protection. The agency will also review and inspect whale watching cruises.

Linh Trang

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