On the Water: Whale & Wildlife Watching
Over 6 million people live around the Strait of Georgia and Puget Sound, and most of us love to see wildlife. But there are only about 85 Southern Resident Orcas left in our region, so we must make sure the activities we love aren't harming whales or other marine wildlife.
You can make a big difference, by pledging to follow these guidelines:
As a Wise Whale and Wildlife Watcher I will…
- Be cautious and courteous and approach areas of known or suspected marine mammal activity with extreme caution. I will look in all directions before planning my approach or departure.
- Slow down and reduce speed to less then 7 knots when within 400 metres/yards the nearest whale/dolphin/sea lion. I will avoid abrupt course changes.
- Slow down when approaching commercial whale watching boats that are stopped or going slowly, even if I cannot see any wildlife.
- Avoid approaching closer than 100 metres/yards to any marine mammals or birds.
- Stop immediately and allow the whales to pass if my vessel is unexpectedly within 100 metres/yards of a whale.
- Avoid approaching whales from the from behind. I will 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. I will avoid positioning my vessel within the 400-metre/yard area in the path of the whales.
- Stay on the offshore side of the whales when they are traveling close to shore and remain at least 200 metres/yards offshore at all times.
- Limit my viewing time to a recommended maximum of 30 minutes so as to minimize the cumulative impact of many vessels and give consideration to other viewers.
- Be quiet and cautious when around haul-outs and bird colonies.
- Pay Attention and back away at the first sign of disturbance or agitation.
- Not swim with, touch or feed whales or other marine mammals.
- Be whale wise: guidelines for watching marine wildlife (2006)
- Field Guide to Killer Whale Watching (Lifeforce Foundation)
- Southern Resident Killer Whale ID guide (Lifeforce Foundation
- Marine Life of Georgia Strait
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