Whale watch workshop provides training, opportunity in the Eastern Caribbean

Monday, 14 May, 2007
Roseau, Dominica
A new, five-day whale watch tour guide and naturalist training workshop, sponsored by IFAW (the International Fund for Animal Welfare – www.ifaw.org) and CARIBwhale, the association of Caribbean whale watch operators, begins today in Dominica.
“The main focus of the course is to provide participants with the skills necessary to safely and effectively conduct successful whale and dolphin watching excursions,” said Dr. Joth Singh, Trinidad-born Director of Wildlife and Habitat Protection at IFAW.
“There is tremendous potential for growth in the whale watching industry in the Caribbean, as part of the global interest in eco-tourism.  We are opening up opportunities not only to individuals currently involved in whale watch tour guiding but also to fishermen and to young people who could join the industry. The intent is to ensure that opportunities within the whale watching sector are broadened to create benefits for more people.”
The workshop, which runs from Monday May 14 through Friday May 18, was opened today by speakers from IFAW and CARIBwhale, with the keynote address provided by the Honorable Mr. Ivor Nassief, Minister of Tourism and Private Sector, Dominica.
Participants include residents of Bahamas, Belize, Dominica, Guadeloupe, St. Lucia, St. Vincent & Grenadines, Grenada and the Dominican Republic, as most of these countries have growing whale watch industries.
The whale watch workshop will cover topics including whale biology, species of the Caribbean, as well as global threats to whales. Working sessions will include discussion and development of draft whale watching guidelines for the region. Research sessions will introduce the latest in non-lethal science including acoustic technology, genetic sampling and photo ID data collection.
Sessions onboard a whale watching boat will include instruction and practice using hydrophone technology, which is used to locate whales based on their sounds, as well as sessions on identifying whales, and whale and dolphin behavior.
“By providing an exceptional whale watch experience to visitors in the Caribbean, we can do our part to promote tourism here,” said Mr. Andrew Armour, President of CARIBwhale. “Whale watching helps the whole tourism economy, with whale watchers contributing economically through hotels, shops, restaurants and transportation.”

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