Cook Islands Whale Research director Nan Daeschler Hauser is pleading with the public to enjoy watching the whales, but to be careful when using boats anywhere near them.
There have been serious concerns about breaches of whale-watching etiquette, particularly over the last two years.
“With the whales birthing so close to our shores, it is of utmost importance that boat operators always look carefully in front of them and keep their speeds down,” Hauser said.
“All boaters should be diligent about the possibility of their craft hitting a whale. The impact can damage internal organs, skin, soft tissue, and the skeletal structure of the whale.
“In the past 18 years whenever I have located a new-born calf, I have reported it on the radio, giving the location and condition of both the mother and her offspring.
“It is important to keep a great distance from the mother and of course the very vulnerable new-born calf.”
Hauser said Cook Islands Whale Research would be working closely with the National Environment Service, Marine Resources, the tourism industry, local resorts, fishermen, dive companies and cargo ship operators in educating people about the importance of conserving the Cook Islands’ marine resources.
“And of course there are all of the tourists and locals who see whales from the shore and report them to us. Thank you to everyone for the past 18 years of being part of our team!
“Four of our team members are on island and the other five members arrive by July.
“Fingers crossed that it will be a great season for all.”