Dolphin and Whale Watching

Dolphin and whale watching involves targeting specific whale and dolphin communities for an extended and close up encounter. 

Dolphin and whale watching is a rapidly growing business worldwide and millions of people a year are taking tours to see these magnificent animals in their natural environment.
Not only do they allow watchers to observe and learn about the mammals in their own habitat but also offers local tourism infrastructures to grow, and adds value to the livelihood of the coastal communities.

Dolphin and whale watching

Where are the best places for dolphin & whale watching?

There are many places in the world where you can enjoy Dolphin and Whale Tours – some of the top 10 places include Vancouver Island, located on Canada’s west coast on the Pacific Ocean, around the coastline of Scotland, particularly the bottle-nosed dolphins at the mouth of the River Spey and the unusual pink dolphin in Hong Kong Harbour!

How to Watch Whales and Dolphins Responsibly?

The rapid increase in the number of dolphin and whale watching organisations can have a negative impact on the natural behaviour of cetaceans and affect their migratory patterns. Therefore responsible initiatives are key in order to maintain this as a long term marine tourism activity.

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

The Standard for Dolphin & Whale Watching

In recent times concerns have risen about the impact of the dolphin and whale watching industry and the harm that frequent, close-up encounters with natural communities of cetaceans may have.

Friend of the Sea has therefore developed a Sustainable Dolphin and Whale Watching Standard that seeks to minimise unintentional disturbance through key principles of conduct.

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

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

Scientific Committee

The Scientific Committee is our scientific body and is composed of 5 to 11 members, who are elected every two years by the Friend of the Sea Scientific and Technical department through CV analysis (upon request or spontaneously received). Scientific Committee representatives come from all the continents and are experts on cetaceans.

The Scientific Committee has a key role in the development and revision of our dolphin and whale watching standards and collaborates by sending comments and voting on the content of our dolphin and whale watching standards and by giving inputs and suggestions on strategical decision for the development of the projects.

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!

Delfini del Ponente was developed by biologists and naturalists from the Costa Balenae Cooperative and Delfini del Ponente researchers in Imperia, in 2018. The project seeks to discover the causes of an increase in the number of sightings of bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) in Western Liguria Sea, not been considered among ideal habitats for this species, that preferer shallow and sandy waters.

This is a very great collaboration and opportunity to create a group of people aiming for the conservation and protection of the marine environmental. We are really proud to be certified by the FOS for our activities and we are all looking for to work with you.”, said Davide Ascheri, responsible and coordinator of the project.

Mare Camp

MareCamp is a non-profit volunteer association created for sea lovers. With the project “Dolphin watching and Conservation in the gulf of Catania” it is the promoter of eco-tourism, education and research activities on cetaceans. It aims at social inclusion and respect for the marine-coastal environment and can count among its members both federal instructors and marine biologists with multi-year experience. The association uses the proceeds of its activities to offer free experiences at sea to less fortunate children and to support the research on whales and dolphins of the Sicilian waters.

Dr. Clara Monaco, Scientific Director of MareCamp: “Cooperate with Friend of the Sea in the tourism sphere has given a surplus value to our outreach and citizen science programs on the conservation of cetaceans. Be certified is an important recognition of our scientific monitoring activity, where each sighting is conducted responsibly”.

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.


DiveCircle is an online platform that offers a wide range of trips for divers, snorkelers and whale watchers. DiveCircle’s Eco Trips take place in a variety of exotic locales around the world. They are offering manta ray watching experiences in Egypt, Baja California and Maldives. Whale shark watching expeditions are available in Mexico, Tanzania (Mafia Island) and Madagascar. Cetacean dive trips, which include dolphin and whale watching, are offering in a similar range of destinations.

In DiveCircle we are all divers and we love the sea. Therefore, we believe that the sea and its inhabitants should be defended.” said Massimiliano Miglio, Founder and Director of DiveCircle.

Friend of the Sea has created, in collaboration with DiveCircle, eco-friendly travel packages for divers and non-divers to interact with manta rays, whale sharks, sea turtles and to go dolphin and whale watching.

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.”

The Swiss Cetacean Society-SCS is a non-profit organisation devoted to the preservation of marine mammals in their natural habitat. SCS holds the conviction that better scientific knowledge of the animals and their environment is essential to ensure efficient protection measures. With this aim in mind, SCS distributes general information about marine mammals to the Swiss public, encourages access to specialised training and organizes the logistics at sea of scientific and environmental programmes abroad. Over the years, SCS has acquired a solid experience in the logistics required for scientific research for the protection of marine mammals.

Friend of the Sea works closely with SCS on its new Awareness Campaign in India.

We believe that the work carried out by Friend of the Sea is very important for the conservation of the oceans, in particular their certification program for sustainable whale watching and other marine-related services. This is largely why we wanted to partner with this organisation.” Ivan Martinproject manager and naturalist guide at Swiss Cetacean Society-SCS.


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