The Truth Behind Swimming And Freediving With Whales In Mauritius
Disclaimer: The author of this article has never swam or freedived with whales in Mauritius and has taken a strong position against its practice.
The Current Situation.
Freediving, an exhilarating and awe-inspiring activity, allows us to explore the ocean’s wonders and connect with marine life in its natural habitat. One particularly mesmerizing encounter that captures the imagination of many freedivers is swimming and freediving alongside majestic whales.
From Instagram freedivers and influencers looking for an increase of likes and followers to the gullible tourist who will buy everything they see, read, or hear from the internet without doing any kind of personal research, swimming and freediving with whales in Mauritius has become the new underwater circus.
However, it is important to recognize and respect the laws and regulations in place to protect these magnificent creatures and their habitats. In Mauritius, a country known for its diverse marine life, swimming and freediving with whales is strictly prohibited by law.
How Did It All Begin?
Swimming and freediving with whales in Mauritius started to get exposure when a certain influential and former record-holder freediver released a video in 2019 in which there was a small scene of himself freediving with whales in Mauritius. As the video went viral in the freediving community with the author of the video never mentioning the actual regulations surrounding this activity in Mauritius (chances are high he might have done it illegally himself), it launched a race for both local and international influencers hunting for the latest viral thing to get likes, creating an even bigger demand for this activity.
On the other end, some unscrupulous people were ready to take advantage of this demand, exploiting the presence of the whales (under the false pretext that they were given photography permission from the government). Among them were international freediving instructors flocking to the island with their organized group trips and celebrity freedivers coming to do underwater shoots for their sponsors, working together with a few local boat operators.
Why I Am Writing This Post?
As the pioneer of freediving in Mauritius (and an SEO black belt who made sure his website got ranked at top position), I am often the first person most people would contact if they are looking for freediving in Mauritius.
Beginning 2020, I started receiving queries from a couple of people regarding whether I was offering swimming and freediving with whales trips in Mauritius. The pandemic and lockdown put a brief stop to such demand, but by 2022 when life was going back to normal these queries had started to become more frequent.
Even though I tried my best to inform people who contacted me about the laws regarding swimming and freediving with whales in Mauritius, most still went ahead and did it with someone else regardless of the actual laws.
While some could argue it is part of the life of a freediving instructor to have to answer such queries, it was slowly turning into a waste of my time especially knowing that these queries were about an illegal and non ethical activity which had already contributed to a baby whale getting injured by boat engine.
I personally have never swam or freedived with whales in Mauritius, nor ever promoted these kind of activities. My focus has always been about teaching people freediving techniques so that they themselves could develop their own aquatic abilities and become one with water.
I am aware that there are many people who will still go ahead and freedive with whales even after reading this article. This article was not meant for them, but instead for the more mindful and thoughtful freedivers who were looking for swimming and freediving with whales in Mauritius but did not know about the actual regulations and negative impacts regarding such activity.
The Importance of Respecting Whale Protection Laws in Mauritius.
Protecting Whale Species:
Mauritius is home to a variety of whale species, including humpback whales and sperm whales, which migrate through its waters. These incredible creatures play a vital role in maintaining the balance of marine ecosystems and are protected under national and international laws. The prohibition on swimming and freediving with whales in Mauritius is aimed at safeguarding these species and their habitats from potential disturbances and harm.
Minimizing Human-Whale Interactions:
Whales are highly sensitive creatures that rely on undisturbed environments for feeding, breeding, and nurturing their young. Introducing human presence through activities like swimming and freediving can disrupt their natural behaviors and cause stress or anxiety. By respecting the ban on swimming and freediving with whales, we minimize the potential for negative human-whale interactions and create space for these magnificent creatures to thrive in their natural habitats.
Preserving Whales’ Natural Behaviors:
Observing whales from a distance allows us to witness their natural behaviors and gain a deeper understanding of their lives. Approaching them too closely or engaging in activities such as swimming and freediving can alter their behavior patterns and disrupt their natural rhythms. Preserving the integrity of these behaviors is crucial for scientific research and conservation efforts, enabling experts to gather valuable data on population dynamics, migration patterns, and other aspects of whale biology.
Promoting Responsible Tourism:
Mauritius, known for its stunning marine biodiversity, attracts visitors from around the world who seek transformative experiences in nature. By upholding the prohibition on swimming and freediving with whales, the country demonstrates its commitment to responsible tourism and sustainable practices. This helps protect the long-term viability of the tourism industry by safeguarding the very attractions that draw travelers to its shores.
Supporting Marine Conservation Efforts:
Respecting and adhering to laws and regulations concerning whale protection contributes to broader marine conservation efforts. It fosters a culture of respect and empathy for marine life and encourages individuals to engage in activities that promote conservation, such as responsible whale-watching programs or participation in research initiatives. By collectively valuing and protecting these marine ecosystems, we ensure their preservation for future generations.
Let The Ocean Creatures Be The ‘Big Fish’ In Their Own ‘Sea’quel.
Swimming and freediving with whales in Mauritius may be an enticing idea for many, but it is essential to recognize the importance of upholding the laws and regulations that safeguard these majestic creatures.
By respecting the prohibition on swimming and freediving with whales in Mauritius, we actively contribute to marine conservation efforts, protect the integrity of their habitats, and foster responsible tourism practices.
Unless we happen to be scientists or researchers who have dedicated a good portion of our lives studying cetaceans, our place does not belong with them underwater.
So let us celebrate the beauty of whales from a respectful distance and work together to create a sustainable future where marine life can thrive undisturbed.