As proud members of the Pacific Whale Watching Association (PWWA), we are part of an innovative group of companies who are committed & dedicated to responsible, ethical, educational wildlife viewing. With the annual collaboration of ‘mainstream’ scientists, researchers and governing bodies we have developed an extensive set of ‘Be Whale Wise’ viewing guidelines for the ethical operation of all types of vessels around the orcas and other wildlife. Following these guidelines will help ensure the continued safety and happiness of the whales, so that wildlife enthusiasts of all ages will be able to marvel at their magnificence. Learn more about PWWA: (white paper for PWWA)

Be Whale Wise target for wildlife viewing guidelines in British Columbia & Washington State Click here to see the full guide: PDF file

Do your part to protect marine mammals — Follow these viewing guidelines:

Whale Watching:

  • 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 departure.
  • SLOW DOWN: reduce speed to less than 7 knots * (8 mph/13 Km) when within 400 meters (437 yards) of the nearest whale. Avoid abrupt course changes.
  • AVOID approaching closer than 100 meters (109 yards) to any whale in Canadian waters, and 183 meters (200 yards) in USA waters.
  • If your vessel is unexpectedly within 100/183 meters of a whale, STOP IMMEDIATELY and allow the whales to pass.
  • AVOID approaching whales from the front or from behind. Always approach and depart whales from the side, moving in a direction parallel to the direction of the whales.
  • KEEP CLEAR of the whales’ path. Avoid positioning your vessel within the 400 meter (437 yards) area in the path of the whales.
  • STAY on the OFFSHORE side of the whales when they are traveling close to shore. Remain at least 200 yards (183 meters) offshore at all times.
  • DO NOT swim with or feed whales.

Porpoises and dolphins:

  •  OBSERVE all guidelines for watching whales.
  • DO NOT drive through groups of porpoises or dolphins for the purpose of bow riding.
  • Should dolphins or porpoises choose to ride the bow wave of your vessel,
  • REDUCE SPEED gradually and avoid sudden course changes.

Seals, sea lions and birds on land:

  •  AVOID approaching closer than 100 metres/yards to any marine mammals or birds.
  • SLOW DOWN and reduce your wake/wash and noise levels.
  • PAY ATTENTION and back away at the first sign of disturbance or agitation.
  • BE CAUTIOUS AND QUIET when around haul-outs and bird colonies, especially during breeding, nesting and pupping seasons (generally May to September).
  • DO NOT swim with or feed any marine mammals or birds.
  • Viewing wildlife within Marine Protected Areas, Wildlife Refuges, Ecological Reserves and Parks:
  • CHECK your nautical charts for the location of various protected areas.
  • ABIDE by posted restrictions or contact a local authority for further information.
  • The Laws: Regulations in Canada and the U.S. prohibit the harassment and disturbance of marine mammals.

NOAA Be Whale Wise guidelines for wildlife viewing in the Pacific Northwest

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