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Whale watching, as a commercial activity, began in 1955 in North America along the Southern California coast. Today, whale-watching tours sail the oceans and bays of some seventy countries and represent one of the fastest growing of all global tourism sectors. The Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS) specifies that a safe whale-watch boat features an experienced skipper and a crew who are well trained in first aid and rescue skills. As a member of the crew, you are responsible for educating the passengers on board about the whales and other marine life observed on your outing. Many whale-watching operations invite research scientists on board, so you may also be involved in research projects with the naturalists who form part of your group.

According to the WDCS, a good guide will demonstrate several valuable characteristics. She or he should be lively and entertaining, knowledgeable about all local marine life, and able to interpret the behavior of whales spotted on the outing, including the whales' singing and mating practices. A guide should also encourage guests to become interested in conservation and point them to further sources of information on whales, such as nearby museums, bookstores, and science centers. Above all, whale-watching guides should care about both the whales and their guests. The welfare of the whales should be the top priority; a whale should never be disturbed or endangered in order to give guests a closer view or bigger thrill, nor should the lives of passengers be threatened by reckless behavior.

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