Dolphin and whale watching – usually consisting of boat trips to see a range of marine life – makes an important contribution to numerous economies and it’s an industrial sector taking off in many other countries.

The income that it brings represents an economic opportunity for many communities around the world. However, the rapid increase of whale watching organisations can affect negatively the behaviour of cetaceans and their migratory patterns.

Our standard helps operators assess threats, promote best practices and support a responsible and sustainable industry.

Dolphin and whale watching

The Standard

Friend of the Sea Dolphin and Whale Watching standard seeks to minimise unintentional disturbance through key principles of conduct.

Friend of the Sea criteria for Sustainable Dolphin and Whale Watching require:

  • maximum number of vessels in Watching Zone;
  • approach distance;
  • training programmes for operators and crew;
  • scientific data collection;
  • no swim with;
  • no mono-use plastic onboard.

Your opinion matters! 

Did you take part in a dolphin and whale watching tour with one of our certified operators? Give us your opinion! Write to and share your photos and videos with us on Facebook and Instagram by tagging #friendofthesea

Find a sustainable operator 

Are you looking for a Friend of the Sea sustainable operator? Find here the list!

Find a sustainable scientific group 

Friend of the Sea collaborates with remarkable scientific research groups. Do you want to know more? Have a look below!

Meris Research

The “Associazione Me.Ri.S. Mediterraneo Ricerca e Sviluppo” is a no-profit organisation for the protection of marine mammals and their environment. It is engaged in research activities in the Sicily Channel (Mediterranean Sea), carrying out studies aimed at protecting cetaceans and at quantifying and reducing anthropogenic impacts. It promotes educational activities and scientific training through research expeditions, training courses, internships and university theses.

Dr. Jessica Alessi, Founder and Director: “The collaboration with Friend of the Sea is an added value for the activities carried out by Me.Ri.S., together we have created a certification specifically thought for the Scientific Research on cetaceans, conducted in a responsible and sustainable way. We at Me.Ri.S., believe that the well-being of dolphins comes first, with the sustainability standard of FOS we can prove it to the participants to our activities.

C.E. S.R.A.M

CE.S.R.A.M. is a non-profit association founded in November 2010. Based in Calabria, Italy, they pursue goals of social utility in the field of protection and enhancement of nature in general, and of the marine environment in particular. The organization’s aim is to promote study, research and scientific dissemination. It operates in Italy and abroad, collaborating with other bodies, associations, groups and companies who are pursuing similar interests.

Dr. Maria Assunta Menniti, Founder and Director: “Studying and seeing dolphins in nature is wonderful, but it is even more beautiful if all this is done in a sustainable and responsible way, respecting the individual balances. All the staff of CE.S.R.A.M. is proud to have partnered with Friend of the Sea! Together we can…Always!

MareCamp is a non-profit volunteer association that carries out and promotes sports, educational, eco-tourism and research activities at sea. MareCamp program participants may possibly spot bottlenose dolphins (Tursiups truncatus) and striped dolphins (Stenella coeruleoalba) all year long and occasionally sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus), fin whales (Balaenoptera physalus) and other cetaceans.

Dr. Clara Monaco, Scientific Director of MareCamp: “We experience the sea on a 360-degrees basis. Only by living the sea is possible to appreciate this environment, know its vulnerabilities and learn how to protect it.

R & E Ocean Community Conservation

The R&E Ocean Community Conservation Foundation‘s mission is to research, preserve and care for vulnerable marine environments and their species. The programs being developed jointly by Friend of the Sea and R&E will enable scientists, eco-tourists, students and volunteers to observe humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae), bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus), pantropical spotted dolphins (Stenella attenuata) and rough-toothed dolphins (Steno bredanensis) in the water of Columbia from mid-June to mid-October.

R&E Ocean Community Conservation is very happy to partner with Friend of the Sea.” said Ann Carole Vallejo, Executive Director and Lead ResearcherWe hope to develop and achieve together responsable and sustainable community-oriented whale watching in Choco, Colombia. With  this framework we would like to encourage the conservation and management for human interactions with marine mammals.


Logo Worldrise

Worldrise is an ONLUS created by young people for young people. It develops projects to conserve and safeguard the marine environment, which are based on awareness-raising, creativity and education.

Friend of the Sea collaborates with Worldrise in the project “The Gulf of Dolphins”, which promotes the spread of sustainable tourism culture in Golfo Aranci (Sardinia), through training, education and divulgation activities.

Mariasole Bianco, Founder and Director of Worldrise: “The collaboration with FOS represents the added value of this project. Together we have created a certification for responsible and sustainable dolphin sighting and the possibility for hundreds of tourists to make the best choice by identifying operators that guarantee quality, education and respect for the environment and its resources.”


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Please fill out the online Preliminary Information Form (PIF) and send back to :

  • All the information will be kept strictly confidential and implies NO commitment on your company’s part.
  • The Friend of the Sea certification is voluntary and NOT mandatory to gain access to markets.
  • The application process is NOT discriminatory on size, scale, management and minimum number of operators.
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