How You Should Responsibly Whale Watch
Pacific Whale Watching Association Guidelines
We strongly recommend that all vessels traversing the Salish Sea and beyond read and abide by the PWWA Guidelines.
Transient Killer Whale Protection Safe Viewing Zones
Maintain a 200 yard radius around any orca whale as a “No-Go” zone, in which no vessel may approach.
Go-Slow Quiet Zone
Recommended 880 yard (1/2 mile) radius around any orca whale as a “Go Slow” Quiet Zone, in which no vessel may exceed 7 knots.
Whale Watching Tips and Guidance
Stay 200 Yards Away
Avoid approaching closer than 200 yards to any whale. Keep an eye out for whale warning flags and actively communicate via radio with professional whale watching vessels on location or in the surrounding area.
Whale Warning Flag
When whales have been spotted, professional whale watching vessels will fly the whale watching warning flag.
Allow the whales to pass if your vessel is unexpectedly within 100 yards.
Make sure you reduce speed to less than seven knots when within 880 yards of the nearest whale. Avoid abrupt course changes.
Stay away of the whales’ path and avoid positioning within the 880 yard area in the path of the whales.
Be Cautious and Courteous
Approach areas of known or suspected marine mammal activity with extreme caution. Look in all directions before planning your approach or depature.
Stay on the Offshore Side
When the whales are traveling close to shore, stay on the offshore side. Remain at least 200 yards offshore at all times.
Making a Difference with Conservation
5 Things You Can Do To Help Protect Our Salmon-Eating Southern Resident Orca Whales
What can you do to help protect our cherished salmon-eating Southern Resident Orca Whale population? There are several good answers — contribute donations or volunteer your time towards Chinook salmon habitat restoration projects (the primary food source that Southern Resident orcas rely on), as well as follow conservation best practices in your daily life at home. Here are a few ways you can help ensure a healthy future for these animals:
Volunteer or Donate: If you live in the Northwest, ask your onboard naturalist about how to get involved with habitat restoration projects to protect and increase the supply of Chinook wild salmon. If you are visiting the area, consider visiting The Whale Museum in Friday Harbor to donate in support of research and rehabilitation efforts to protect our salmon-eating Southern Resident Killer Whales.
Avoid farmed Atlantic salmon: Farmed salmon have a detrimental effect on our wild populations, causing issues such as the spread of disease, environmental pollution (the concentrated antibiotics, pesticides and chemicals used in farms often leach into local waters) and a potentially weaker salmon gene pool due to wild-farmed salmon hybrids.
Eliminate Unnecessary Plastics: Instead of plastic bags and bottles, which often end up in the ocean, use reusable shopping bags and stainless steel water bottles.
Avoid Toxic Chemicals: Avoid using toxic pesticides and fertilizers in your yard and garden, and choose organic foods when possible. This will reduce the amount of chemical runoff into waterways, which eventually end up in our oceans. Use biodegradeable cleaning supplies.
Keep Learning and Share Knowledge: As research evolves, we encourage you to continue learning about orca whales and sharing knowledge with friends, family and co-workers! Knowledge is power in protecting our precious salmon-eating Southern Resident Killer Whales!