By CBSLA Staff

DANA POINT (CBSLA) – A city in Orange County has been deemed the first Whale Heritage Site in the United States thanks to the efforts of two local women.

Donna Kalez and Gisele Anderson, co-directors of the Dana Point Whale Watching Company, began the application process early in 2020 after successfully trademarking Dana Point as the Dolphin & Whale Capital of the World® in 2019.

READ MORE: Vanessa Bryant Learned Of Kobe, Gianna's Death Hours After Helicopter Crash; Asked LA County Sheriff To Secure Site

Whale Heritage Sites give tourists a transparent and easy way to select responsible whale and dolphin watching destinations to see the marine mammals in their natural habitats.

“To have Dana Point recognized as a Whale Heritage Site is a dream and has been a goal of mine for some time,” said Kalez. “Dana Point has historically been an incredible destination to watch and learn about whales and dolphins and now we are happy to share this with the world.”

The criteria for acceptance is competitive: focusing on protection, sustainability, education, research, public access, and awareness.

READ MORE: 18-Year-Old Killed in Halloween Party Shooting

“Being the first Whale Heritage Site in America is an amazing accomplishment and serves to further recognize Dana Point and the whales and dolphins that live and visit here the recognition they deserve, as well send a message to the world that Dana Point is also a place that protects and responsibly watches cetaceans,” Anderson added.

In 2020, Dana Point was one of eight candidate destinations from around the world. The World Cetacean Alliance states that “Each site is unique, providing and contributing in different ways to the criteria for becoming certified.”

The Whale Heritage Site also gives California visitors a sustainable alternative to captive marine mammal displays, World Cetacean Alliance added.

MORE NEWS: Dye, Brown lead No. 10 Oregon past UCLA, 34-31 In Rose Bowl Thriller

Other Whale Heritage Sites include Hervey Bay, Australia; The Bluff, South Africa; and Tenerife-La Gomera Marine Area, Spain.