Summer is almost here, the sun is out and the ocean is calling! Many of us will be looking forward to a season of boat rides, enjoying nature at its best and hoping for an encounter or two with a whale! In B.C. we are lucky enough to have an abundance marine mammals such as killer whales, humpback whales, gray whales, harbour porpoises and Steller sea lions to name but a few.

However, in those moments of excitement when you see the first tell-tale dorsal fin or a misty column of breath, don’t forget to Be Whale Wise!

If you are on a boat or paddling in your kayak, remember these key steps:

* Stay at least 100m/yards away from the whale

* Slow down- reduce speed to less than 7 knots when you are within 400 m/yards of a whale

* Keep clear of their path and only approach them from the side, never in front or behind

* If you are less than 100m from the whale, put your engine in neutral and let them pass

* Stay on the offshore side of the whales if they are close to shore

* If you are kayaking, group together out of the way and stop paddling


Watching whales in their natural habitat is a true privilege and we hope that you all get the opportunity. Remember to be cautious and courteous, approaching areas where you know marine mammals might be with extreme caution. B.C’s marine mammals already have a lot to deal with; the oceans are getting louder, waterways are getting busier and pollution levels are increasing. By following the Be Whale Wise Guidelines you can make sure your boat isn’t an additional stress. Limiting your viewing pleasure to 30 minutes will ensure that you get the most enjoyment from your encounter whilst protecting the animals you are watching. And it goes without saying, please refrain from swimming, touching or feeding any marine wildlife – they are quiet good at finding their own dinner!

Regardless if this is your first time out on water or you a seasoned boater, take a minute to remind yourself of the full guidelines by clicking on this link:

Remember, when we are out at sea, we are in their home and like all good guests, we should be polite, courteous and leave before we outstay our welcome. So enjoy your time on the water this summer and don’t forget to report your sightings of cetaceans and sea turtles to the B.C. Cetacean Sightings Network. Let us know what you saw by reporting with the new WhaleReport smartphone app (download for iOS devices here and Android devices here), by calling 1.866.I.SAW.ONE, visiting or emailing [email protected].

Written by Natalie Sanders


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