The Silver Bank is part of the much larger Sanctuary for the Marine Mammals of the Dominican Republic. This protected area encompasses other nursery areas (the Navidad Bank and Samana Bay). It also includes the deeper waters between the banks. These are important migration routes for whales headed to other parts of the Caribbean.
In 1986, the Dominican Republic recognized the vital importance of the Silver Bank by establishing the Silver Bank Sanctuary. Ten years later that commitment was strengthened. The protected area was enlarged to its current size and renamed the Sanctuary for the Marine Mammals of the Dominican Republic.
As part of a regulated area all activity on the Silver Bank must adhere to strict guidelines. These are overseen by the on-site Coordinator. Among other rules, the guidelines limit the number of vessels on the Silver Bank. In fact, during the whale season no vessel may visit the Silver Bank without a permit. As a guest of Conscious Breath Adventures you will be visiting this restricted area with an authorized permit holder.
The Silver Bank is possibly the most exclusive whale watching destination in the world. Only three permits are issued. This limits the total number of guests to no more than 60 a week, around 600 in an entire season. The low numbers help protect the whales from excessive contact. And an added benefit for visitors is the absence of crowding.
Typically the daily excursions aboard our whale boats range 3-5 miles from the anchorage, often much less. This leaves the vast majority of the Sanctuary completely undisturbed.
Specific regulations govern the conduct of the larger vessels. There are also guidelines for surface whale watching. The rules cover speed and direction of approach to the whales. They also also set forth the accepted technique for in-water encounters referred to as a Soft-In-Water Encounter.
The guidelines ensure that all three operators act in a consistent manner, with an emphasis on communication and cooperation. With regards to marine mammals, the Dominican Republic has taken a leading role among Caribbean nations. By maintaining this Sanctuary, the country proudly confirms its commitment to these gentle giants.