Reposted from my work blog:
As many of you know, we recently posted a video compilation of some of our amazing encounters with Gray Whales this year. Many have responded with harsh and hostile criticism of the event, our general operating practices and even the morality and personal character of our staff. We’ve stated what occurred and have been in open discourse with those that have expressed their concerns in a professional and positive manner. We’ve taken some suggestions as to how to make this controversy into a positive experience of growth and change. We reached out to the American Cetacean Society in San Diego to collaborate on an educational event for ourselves and other companies in our industry. A representative from NOAA came to our shop and discussed the experience. According to her, we conducted the kayak tour in alignment with the laws and regulations for marine viewing. The only constructive criticism she gave us was to not enter the water when they are as close as they were in the video. She reviewed our facilities and watched our videos and said NOAA is not pursuing any legal action against our company and that frankly, they have more important things to do.
The thing that many of our hostile commenters have failed to realize is that we are on self-propelled kayaks that do not pollute the water and do not disturb the whales with engine and propellor noise. Many of the hostile people have images of themselves touching whales from motorboats, which is what the laws are actually governing. It is impossible to chase down these gentle giants on our kayaks. They are simply too fast. When they surface next to us, we instruct our participants to back paddle away and our guides approach those participants to ensure their safety.
We love these animals. We are extremely lucky to be able to share their magnificence with others, showing them how they are meant to be seen: in the wild and not in captivity. We appreciate people’s concerns and understand that it stems from the same love. But if you want to create change and make a difference in the world, try to do so without hate speech, derogatory comments, insulting the character of people you’ve never met, because those are negative means that accomplish nothing. Constructive criticism and positive attitudes are how you make a difference. If you truly care, then show it: compassion, empathy and an open mind are how we show we care. We hope this experience becomes an opportunity not just for our industry to be properly aligned with the appropriate way to view marine life, but also as a way to change the way people interact with each other to create growth and lasting positive change. Everyday California is more than just a tourism company or brand, we are our collective expression of how we live the California dream and how we share it with others. Be kind, be compassionate and be enthusiastic about life and have fun. We invite you to do so with us.