I always advise people when they go whale watching to not worry about the camera, to leave it in their bag and buy a postcard on their return. If you are a commercial photographer or it is your fifth whale watch trip and you want to see if you can do it better than the professionals than this piece of advise is not for you.
It is also not for Trish and Wally Franklin of the Oceania Project. Their photo-identification survey which began in 1992 (whale watching in Hervey Bay began in 1987) provides data for long-term study of the behaviour, social dynamics and ecology of the humpback and documents the recovery of the East coast of Australia migration following their near extinction by commercial whaling.
I still say, to the average everyday whale watcher – leave your camera in your bag. Why you ask? The desire to get the perfect shot detracts from being in the moment, being with every movement of the boat, being with the whale and the expectation of what it will do next. Buddhists say ‘Be in the moment’ and I think they have it right particularly when you are whale watching. Enjoy the process and the activity. Be one with the vessel you are traveling on, that is part of the journey. Be one with the sea and wonder at how lucky we are to have clean, clear water. When you see a whale, WOW this is what you have come to SEE. Enjoy it.
Ask yourself, are you really going to go back and look at those photos year after year? I think the answer is no but one thing I do know is that you are going to bore all your friends and rellies to death with picture after picture after picture. A postcard that can be stuck on the fridge would be much more welcome I am sure.