Any time spent at sea provides the opportunity to observe wild animals, from enormous whales down to the smallest plankton.
Watching Whales from Boats
Whales, and their smaller cousins the dolphins and porpoises, can pop up (literally) almost anywhere in the ocean. It can be very frustrating if a pair of binoculars are not ready to hand. The best solution is to keep them constantly around the neck.
Seals and sea-lions can often be spotted closer to shore, and often hauled up on the rocks.
Seabirds will be constant companions on any sea trip, sometimes in vast numbers. There are so many species that it is useful to carry a local field guide, or a notebook and pencil (still writes when wet!) to jot down descriptions for later identification.
Find Out Where to Watch Whales
- Obviously anyone owning a moored boat will be restricted to trips in the location of the moorings. Local knowledge will be available about possible sightings at different times of the year.
- Trailing a boat from home to the coast on holiday will open up many more opportunities, and a little research will uncover likely places.
- Hiring a boat for a family holiday naturally gives much more scope, especially when funds allow travel to distant places. Really keen whale-watchers will already know what they want to see and where, but beginners could do a little internet research to discover good sites (e.g. ‘10 top whale-watching destinations’).
- Corporate sailing ventures will naturally be ‘pot luck’ (unless the organiser happens to be a naturalist!), but all oceans have wildlife galore. It might be difficult to spend a lot of time peering through binoculars if the object of the trip is to ‘team-build’, but a little time can surely be snatched when things hot up on the whale front.
- Pottering about, going nowhere in particular, is best for dipping a net in the water to catch plankton.
Observing Living Plankton
The upper layers of the ocean are full of plankton. A suitable plankton net can be towed behind any slow-moving boat, and the living animals can be decanted into a suitable dish and studied. They are very small, so a small hand lens is an essential piece of equipment.
Sea Fishing from Boats
There are many reasons for fishing at sea, from catching tea to observing specimens. Day trips can be arranged in most coastal resorts, and time can be taken out of any sea trip for a spot of fishing. The naturalist will be interested in the species caught, but might also enjoy the taste!
Any boating experience provides opportunities for wildlife enthusiasts.