When I was a youngster, “Free Willy” was one of my favorite movies. It was a movie I never got tired of watching. I think I eventually watched the movie so many times that I messed up my VHS tape. As you can imagine, it was this movie that also sparked my dream of eventually seeing whales in their natural habitat, in all their majestic glory.
As an adult, I finally had the opportunity to go whale watching. During my first trips, I was impressed, but I knew that the experience could be better. Frankly, I did not see the creatures all that well.
As a fan of optics, I wondered whether the whale-watching experience could be improved with a good pair of binoculars. And, I am more than happy to share my findings with all of you.
In this article, you will find out whether binoculars can help with whale watching, what type of binoculars are best suited for this activity, and what other factors you should keep in mind to make the most out of your whale watching experience.
Can I Use Binoculars for Whale Watching?
Yes, a good pair of binoculars can be a very good visual aid for whale watching.
However, not all binoculars are created equal and you also need to know how to use your pair to get the most out of your investment.
In addition, you should use different models in different contexts – a binocular you use on a whale-watching boating trip may not work as well when you are using it for watching whales from the shore.
Things like the field of view, magnification, durability, and weight of the binocular should all be considered before you purchase a pair of binoculars for whale watching. In the following, let’s look at some of these features in greater detail.
4 Features You Should Consider When Choosing a Pair of Binoculars for Whale Watching
Here are the key features you should look out for when choosing a pair of binoculars for whale watching:
Field of view: This is the width of the area you can see when looking through your binoculars. A wider field of view is generally better for whale watching, as it will allow you to see more of the whale at one time.
Magnification: In layman’s terms, this indicates how close an object appears when looking through your binoculars. Higher magnification will make an object appear closer, but it will also make it more difficult to keep the object in focus. For instance, the best stargazing binoculars can have magnification levels of up to 25x, but this is not necessary (or practical) for whale watching. A lower magnification, such as 7x or 8x, will be more than sufficient for most people.
Weight: This is an important factor to consider if you plan on using your binoculars for extended periods.
Durability: This is another important factor to consider if you are planning on using your binoculars in harsher environments, such as in the wilderness of Alaska. Storms can come unexpectedly and you want to make sure your binoculars can withstand the elements.
Now that we have looked at some of the key features you should consider when choosing a binocular for whale watching, let’s also look at some tips for whale watchers that plan on using binoculars on their next venture.
5 Tips for Whale Watching with Binoculars
When you are out whale watching, there are a few things you can do to make sure you get the most out of your binoculars:
1. Use a tripod: A tripod will help steady your binoculars and allow you to see the whales more clearly.
2. Bring extra batteries: If you are using electronic binoculars, make sure you bring extra batteries. There is nothing worse than your binoculars running out of juice in the middle of a whale-watching trip.
3. Do some research on the species of whales you are likely to see: Some whale species are nocturnal, while others prefer to surface in the daytime. In addition, some species will completely avoid waters with heavy human activity while some species do not mind threading close to harbors and boats. Knowing the key behavioral characteristics of the whale species you are likely to see on your trip will help you optimize your whale-watching experience in advance.
4. Join a whale-watching tour: This is not strictly necessary, but joining a whale-watching tour with experienced guides can be a great way for beginners to get started. While the whale-watching experience will not be that intimate, you will get to learn a lot about the animals in the process.
5. Be patient: Whales are wild animals and they do not always show themselves on command. If you do not see any whales after an hour or so, do not despair – keep looking, and eventually, you will be rewarded for your patience.
By following the tips above, you can make sure you get the most out of your binoculars on your next whale-watching trip. There is nothing difficult in preparing for whale watching – as long as you do your research and have the appropriate gear, you will probably succeed in your quest to see these majestic creatures in the wild.
What Kind of Binoculars to Use for Whale Watching?
There are a few different types of binoculars that can be used for whale watching. The type of binoculars you use will depend on your budget, needs, and preferences.
Compact binoculars: Compact binoculars are small and lightweight – perfect for those who want to avoid lugging around heavy gear. However, compact binoculars typically have lower magnification levels and smaller lenses, which can make it more difficult to get a clear view of the whales.
Standard binoculars: Standard binoculars are larger than compact binoculars, but they offer better optics and higher magnification levels. If you want to get a good look at the whales, standard binoculars are a good option.
Marine binoculars: Marine binoculars are specifically designed for use in the marine environment. They are typically waterproof and have special coatings that help reduce glare from the water surface. Marine binoculars can be a good choice for whale watching, but they tend to be more expensive than other types of binoculars.
Now that you know the different types of binoculars available, you will probably want to see some examples of specific products. For some recommendations that are friendly to all budget levels, feel free to head over to our article on the best binoculars for whale watching.
To sum it all up – binoculars can and should be used for whale watching. These little tools can make a big difference in your ability to spot and enjoy these majestic creatures in the wild. Just make sure you get the right type of binocular for your needs and budget and do not forget to follow the tips above to make the most out of your trip.
Happy whale watching!
Frequently Asked Questions
Should you take binoculars to whale watching?
When embarking on a whale watching adventure, it’s important to be well-prepared to ensure the most rewarding experience. Binoculars are absolutely essential if you want to fully appreciate these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat. With your trusty binoculars, you’ll be able to observe whales at a safe distance, even when they are far away from your boat – an invaluable opportunity for keen wildlife observers and photography enthusiasts! Bring a good pair of binoculars to make sure you don’t miss any part of the incredible spectacle.
What size binoculars do I need for whale watching?
When it comes to choosing the right size for your binoculars, it largely depends on how far out you expect the whales to be during your watch. Standard choices that are widely preferred include 8×32, 8×42, 10×32 and 10×42 models. Given the spontaneity of wildlife, it’s often advised to opt for a higher magnification such as 10x, instead of 8x when the animals could be further away from where you station. Having been on numerous whale watches in my time, I’ve learned that a larger magnification can make all the difference between a mediocre and a magnificent outing!
What is a good pair of binoculars for whale watching?
If you’re setting up for an exciting whale watching expedition, the right set of binoculars can greatly enhance your experience. You might consider the Bushnell H2O Waterproof 7×50 binoculars. As a marine biologist, I’ve used these binoculars myself and I can vouch for their quality. Their impressive 7x magnification is the perfect balance between a wide field of view and a close-up look at distant objects. Moreover, their waterproof design is particularly suited to the marine environment, making them ideal for whale watching.
Are 8×42 binoculars good for whale watching?
Observation from land calls for a binocular set that offers a broad view – which is exactly what 8×42 or 10×42 binoculars provide. Having used them myself, I can confirm that these particular binoculars are excellent for whale watching from land. The wide field of view allows for easy recognition of approaching whales, while the magnification power can help you spot whales at massive distances, thereby negating the need to get too close. If you’re planning to watch from the coast, go for a set of 8×42 or 10×42 binoculars – you won’t be disappointed!