Whale-watching season is about to kick off in and near Cabo shores. The whale-watching industry in Mexico is actually highly regulated. At least for Mexico standards, where certain laws and regulations aren’t necessarily followed as thoroughly. The official “Diary of the Federation,” which is the publication in which all Mexican laws are published, recently published official norm 131. This is the document that outlines rules and regulations that tourists and service providers must follow throughout the upcoming whale-watching season in Los Cabos and nearby areas.
Whale Watching Is “Restricted” Near Popular Cabo Landmarks
It’s important to point out that there’s no complete restriction on whale-watching virtually anywhere in Los Cabos. However, authorities are going to be vigilant when it comes to exactly how close boats are getting to specific areas that are known spots where whales go to have their calves. For example, during whale watching season, navigating is prohibited within a perimeter of 2 km or 1.2 miles surrounding the famous Los Cabos arch.
Navigating in Cabo Pulmo, one of the most popular spots for diving in Los Cabos, is also restricted. Ships will not be allowed within 2 miles of the Cabo Pulmo shore during whale-watching season. There will seemingly be exceptions made to local ships that call the Cabo Pulmo dock home. These restrictions are put in place to ensure that the presence of whale-watching ships does not disturb the whales that arrive in the region. In Cabo San Lucas, the whale watching season will run from December 15th to April 30th, 2023. It’s important to keep these dates in mind since sailing near the Los Cabos arch may be heavily monitored.
Ports near La Paz are going to see the heaviest restrictions on shipping activity throughout the whale-watching season. There will be restrictions in place at Puerto Adolfo López Mateos, Puerto San Carlos, and Puerto Magdalena. These last few are within the town of Comondú, the Bahía Magdalena, and Bahía Santa María.
The Distance Between A Whale & A Ship Is Also Regulated
Other than avoiding the restricted areas, tourists and Los Cabos locals who want to go whale watching must also observe specific guidelines when it comes to the distance they must keep from whales. These guidelines may be more relevant to tourists because if you come across a whale while you’re on a rented jet ski, you’re expected to know these guidelines or risk getting fined by local authorities.
The minimum distance that boats, jet skis, or yachts must keep from any whale is about 65 yards. The type of vessel that you’re in, and also the type of whale that’s in the water, will actually determine the minimum distance that people must keep from whales. Small boats are allowed to stay at that 65-yard minimum mark. Even smaller boats must back off to 109 yards away when encountering a blue whale or a fin whale. Larger yachts are expected to keep a minimum distance of about 87 yards at a minimum. For blue whales or fin whales, they must back off to 131 yards away.
Another thing that is important to point out is that ships aren’t allowed to flock toward whales. Only 4 vessels at a time are allowed to remain at the minimum distance from the animals at any given time. All other vessels that are in the vicinity must stay at least 260 yards away if four ships are already around the whale or a group of whales.
Certified whale-watching tour providers are well aware of the regulations and will hopefully keep them in mind. Tourists who rent jet skis, kayaks, or other types of vessels would do well to keep these regulations in mind to stay safe in the water during whale watching season.
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