Sharing the ocean with whales and dolphins is one of the many joys of stand up paddling. But there are laws that govern how close you can be to these creatures and fines if you get too close.

Many a paddler have come across these awesome creatures. We hear stories of dolphins gliding alongside paddleboards like they are welcoming the paddler to their home, or whales that suddenly popped their huge head out of the water to say hello! Sometimes so close that you feel you could reach out and touch it.

Yet despite the desire to get close to such magnificent creatures, be warned that in many countries there are regulations on how close you can be to whales and dolphins. These regulations are to protect both the humans and the whales and dolphins from injury and to also not to disturb these wild creatures in their natural habitat.

In Australia, for example, you must stay at least 100 metres from whales and dolphins. Within 300m vessels must use caution and travel at low speed.

Touching or feeding whales and dolphins is prohibited and failure to abide by these regulations can result in substantial fines from $2,000.

No matter which country you are paddling in or visiting, it is good practice to abide by these regulations but also read up on specific countries laws regarding whale and dolphin encounters.

Author:  ASI.  (Academy of Surfing Instructors)  www.academyofsurfing.com