High Quality Content by WIKIPEDIA articles! Whale watching is the practice of observing whales and other cetaceans in their natural habitat. WHales are watched most commonly for recreation (cf. Bird watching) but the activity can also serve scientific or educational purposes. WHile individuals do organize private trips, whale watching is primarily a commercial activity, estimated to be worth up to $1 billion per annum worldwide to whale watching operations and their local communities. THe size and rapid growth of the industry has led to complex and continuing debates with the whaling industry about the best use of whales as a natural resource. ORganized whale watching dates back to 1950 when the Cabrillo National Monument in San Diego was declared a public venue for observing Gray Whales. IN 1955 the first water-based whale watching commenced in the same area, charging customers $1 per trip to view the whales at closer quarters. THe spectacle attracted 10,000 visitors in its first year and many more in subsequent years. THe industry spread throughout the western coast of the United States over the following decade.