A pilot whale gently surfaces. First week of whale watching, August 2020 © Cheryl Fraser

We had a late start this year due to Covid-19 and didn’t hit the water until August 1st. Now that we’re on the Northern Cape Breton waters, what are we doing differently because of the pandemic? 

Well, masks are mandatory as per the Nova Scotia government’s recommendation for indoor spaces. Yes, our tour is largely an outdoor experience, but we believe in being as safe as possible. The extra safety is second nature to any Captain. On a boat you must have extra fuel, life vests, radio systems, back-up steering etc. 

We also reduced our number of whale tours to make sure the boat is clean. Normally we tour 10:30 am, 1:30 pm and 4:40 pm, but we cut out the 1:30 pm tour. Similar to extra safety measures, we wanted to make sure there is enough time between tours to clean the boat.

To keep customers safe we also added contact prevention practices, such as one passenger in the office at the time, removal of our point-of-sale services, and we offer payments/bookings over the phone or online.

Lastly, we reduced our touring capacity by 60%. Normally we seat 24 people with a 2 person overflow for booking errors, pets etc. This year, in accordance with Nova Scotia’s guidelines, we are allowing only 10 passengers at a time on each whale tour. Admittedly, there is six feet between both our benches and we could technically fit more while maintaining social distancing guidelines; however, we wanted to guarantee social distancing for everyone aboard.

Oshan Whale Watch isn’t projecting a profit this shortened season, but what small business in Canada is? We plan to keep whale watching  until our normal stop time at the end of September. We’ll research whales, as we always do, and hopefully the passengers aboard enjoy their tour, the whales and their Atlantic bubble staycation.