Seeing marine wildlife from the bow of your own boat is a breathtaking experience. Sea turtles, manatees, manta rays, dolphins, and whales are all accessible in bodies of water throughout the country.
There are plenty of boating destinations to witness the beauty of marine animals in their natural habitat. Whether it’s warm tropical waters or arctic oceans you are looking for, we have found some of the best spots to view marine wildlife.
Keeping safe while viewing wildlife
Knowing the proper etiquette for viewing animals in a marine environment is essential. The National Marine Sanctuary System suggests that boaters learn the local regulations and know where viewing sites are before heading out into the water. Some species thrive in estuaries and coral reefs, while others prefer open waterways. Understanding the seasonal cycles will also improve your chances of witnessing marine animals in their natural habitat.
The use of binoculars or a camera zoom lens will help you see the animals from a safe distance, without disrupting their daily rhythms. Never attempt to touch or ride a marine animal. If an animal approaches your vessel, put the boat in neutral, stay calm, and don’t obstruct their travel path.
Never feed, chase, or harass wildlife and stay away from animals that appear to be sick. Make sure everyone on your boat is aware of the rules of the water to ensure a safe experience for you and the animals. Boating can expose you to some beautiful sights and wildlife. Take responsibility for preserving and protecting America’s waterways and enjoy the great outdoors.
Some of the best locations in the country to see marine wildlife
The best place to catch a glimpse of humpback whales is in Maui, Hawaii, from January to April during their migration season. They are also bountiful in Cape Cod along the coast of Massachusetts from April to October. In the springtime, Beluga and sperm whales can be spotted regularly in Mexico along the Baja California Sur. In the fall, killer whales known as orcas, find their home among the San Juan Islands of Washington state. Witnessing these majestic creatures breach, slap their fins, or spout from their blowholes is a memorable once-in-a-lifetime experience.
One of the most beautiful tropical destinations on the planet is Hawaii. Anchoring your boat in Turtle Town on Maui will provide access to some of the largest green sea turtles in the world. They live year-round along the coral reefs and warm waters of Hawaii. Giant manta rays, with wingspans up to 29 feet, are often spotted in Keauhou Bay on the Big Island. It is a great spot to snorkel or dive to see the marine animals at play.
Between November and April, manatees fill the waterways of Crystal River, Florida. Opportunities are plentiful to view these sea cows up close. In the Bahamas, Atlantic spotted dolphins call this tropical oasis home. Seeing them jump and flip in the waves behind your boat is a common occurrence in this area and an experience that you will not soon forget.
The joys of boating and being free out on the water
Boating is the perfect way to escape the fast-paced stresses of everyday life. Relaxation abounds with the sound of the waves, gentle rock of the boat, and unlimited chances to see marine wildlife up close and personal.
Biologist Dr. Wallace Nichols discusses the scientific connection between water and happiness in his book, Blue Mind. He claims that, “We now know, thanks to science, that the mere sight and sound of water promotes wellness by lowering cortisol and increasing serotonin and inducing relaxation. It only makes sense that being on a boat is one of the best ways to access the wellness benefits of the water.”