Right whales

In this Jan. 21, 2013 photo provided by The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, a right whale named Equator, after the white scar across her back from being entangled in fishing gear in 2008, and her calf are seen swimming offshore of Cumberland Island, Ga. (AP Photo/The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission)

Getting a chance to see whales and dolphins up close and personal in their natural habitat is a fantastic experience, from the human point of view. But recent research suggests that whale-watching trips might inadvertently put some species at risk by altering how these animals behave.

A news article in Nature magazine reports, from a meeting of the International Marine Conservation Congress (IMCC) last week:

Most of the speakers at the IMCC meeting agreed that more should be done to protect dolphins and whales from tourists. “Although whale-watching is not as bad as whaling,” says New, “it might be that last piece that pushes a species over.”

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