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Be whale wise.
Give whales space.
If you see something…
Say something!

Act Responsibly

Be Whale Wise informs you on the local laws pertaining to marine mammals, as well as provides additional guidelines that will make you a safer boater and a steward of our natural resources.

The Salish Sea is home to many marine mammals, but most known as the home of the Southern Resident Community of orcas or killer whales (SRKWs). This unique population of orca whales feeds on fish, preferably salmon, and lives in close family groups. The Southern Resident orcas are listed as endangered in both Canada and the United States. Only 76 orcas remain as of June 2019. One of the best ways to help these whales is to Be Whale Wise!

Click to DOWNLOAD Be Whale Wise Brochure
100 metres/yards no approach zone for all other marine mammals in US and Canada; and keeping 200 metres away from whales, dolphins, or porpoises if they are resting or with their calf.
100 metres/yards no approach zone for all other marine mammals in US and Canada; and keeping 200 metres away from whales, dolphins, or porpoises if they are resting or with their calf.

What You Need to Know

The Laws

Washington State

  • Boats to stay 300 yards from Southern Resident orcas or killer whales on either side.
  • Boats to stay 400 yards out of Southern Resident orca’s path/in front and behind the whales
  • Boats to go slow (<7 knots) within ½ mile of Southern Resident orcas
  • Disengage engines if whales appear within 300 yards.

Boats to stay 100 yards from all other marine mammals (e.g. humpback whales, gray whales, sea lions and seals).

Canada

  • Boats must stay 400 metres from orcas or killer whales in Southern Resident killer whales’ critical habitat.
  • Boats must stay 200 metres from killer whales in other BC waters.
  • Boats must stay 100 metres from all other cetaceans (e.g. humpback whales, gray whales).

Boats must stay out of certain sections of Swiftsure Bank, off the east coast of Saturna Island and south-west of North Pender Island.

The Guidelines

Washington State

  • Turn off fish finders and echo sounders when not in use.
  • Use Whale Warning Flag to warn fellow boaters to the presence of whales.

Canada

  • Go slow (<7knots) within 1,000 metres of orcas.
  • Turn off fish finders and echo sounders if safe to do so.
  • Use Whale Warning Flag to warn fellow boaters to the presence of whales.

Know the Zones

San Juan Island West Side Voluntary No-Boat Zone

  • Extends from Mitchell Point to Cattle Point
  • ¼ mile offshore, ½ mile around Lime Kiln Point State Park

Canada Interim Sanctuary Zones

  • Saturna Island
  • Swiftsure Bank
  • Pender Island

See map for coordinates and closure dates.

Click to DOWNLOAD Canada’s poster.

Click to DOWNLOAD Canada’s Flyer.

Whale Warning Flags Indicate

  • Whales are in the vicinity
  • Vessels should slow down and be prepared to change course
  • Turn off fishfinders and depth sounders

More Information