10 hours ago
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A beautiful image of a juvenile #HumpbackWhale coming in for a closer look at One Ocean Diving co founder @oceanramsey in the crystal clear waters of the Kingdom of #Tonga. Just a single generation ago these same whales were hunted as a food source, however, a royal decree outlawed the practice back in 1978. Since then this small pacific island has gained popularity as a destination for whale watching and interactions with one study estimating the value of the whales in excess of USD$700,000 as a tourist attraction (Orams 2010) proving these whales are #WorthMoreAlive. Being personally inspected by a playful humpback whale that is possibly seeing a human for the first time in its life can leave a lasting impression, but the tendency of this industry to focus mainly on mothers and calfs has raised concerns for potential to impact on the subpopulation's breeding success and recovery. Thankfully there are a limited number of licenses, strict rules and regulations in place that guide operators activities to minimize any potential impact and ensure long term sustainability. New training programs for guides based on empirical research have improved local knowledge, engagement and responsibility regarding the role of the guide and #ecotourism from a local to global perspective, and elicited a sense of national pride in leading the way for best practice in whale ecotourism in the South Pacific region (Walker & Weiler 2016). Commercial whaling dramatically reduced populations of whales similar to the degree of which sharks are being exploited today. It was only when whales were recognized as crucial natural resources and valued components of a healthy ecosystem that international frameworks for their protection and conservation were established. Every single baby whale seen today is a living reminder that humans have the capacity to change their ways and give wildlife we share the planet with the chance to recover.
#SpeakUpForNature #ForFutureGenerations #OfAllSpecies 🐢🐋🐬🦈 Post by @blakethompsonphoto
Photo by @oceanramsey #shotoniphone using the @aquatech_imagingsolutions #AxisGo water housing.
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