Published on : Saturday, April 8, 2017
Thomson Cruise might close down all whales and dolphin-watching tours in the Grenadines after holidaymakers on an outing witnessed two whales being killed. Following the incident, the small Caribbean nation is now under pressure to review its whaling practices.
40 passengers took part in a whale and dolphin watching tour on a TUI Discovery ship. This is an optional add-on to their itinerary for the passengers which is when they saw men harpoon two of a group of four orcas.
Initially, they tourists were enthralled to spot four orcas off the coast of St. Vincent, the main island of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Ken Isaacs, a crewmember of Fantasea Tours, which operated the trip, was aboard the boat at the time and witnessed the series of the events. He, shouted at the fisherman to “leave [the orcas] alone” however they did not listen to the plea. On Isaacs’ advice, the captain began to turn the tourist boat away, to protect passengers from seeing the scene, but as they did, “there was a loud explosion as the spear was fired into the killer whale”.
On witnessing such a ghastly slaughter of the immense mammal, most of the passengers were disturbed. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is one of the few countries in the world where the practice of whaling – or hunting whales for their usable products such as meat and oil – remains legal.
European conservation organisation ORCA works with ferry and cruise operators, including Saga and Brittany Ferries, training crews to identify whale species and in some cases coming on board to educate cruise passengers about the marine life around them.
According to a spokesperson, whaling is a “cruel and barbaric” trade that should not be a part of modern society. “Cruise companies have unparalleled reach in tourist-reliant economies across the world, and therefore have the opportunity to make a real difference in stopping the whaling trade.”
The country’s Prime Minister, Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, who has previously stated he would like to move local industry away from whaling and towards whale-watching tourism, responded quickly to the Thomson Cruise incident. The prime minister has now committed to passing legislation to make the killing of orcas illegal. The greatest number of whale killings annually takes place in Norway.