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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 when within 400 metres/yards of the nearest whale.  Avoid abrupt course changes.
  • AVOID approaching closer than 100 metres/yards to any whale.
  • If your vessel is unexpectedly within 100 metres/yards 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 metre/yard 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 metres/yards offshore at all times.
  • LIMIT your viewing time to a recommended maximum of 30 minutes.  This will minimize the cumulative impact of many vessels and give consideration to other viewers.
  • 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 in Marine Protected Areas, Wildlife Refuges, Ecological Reserves & 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.

What is a disturbance?

Disturbance is when we interfere with an animal’s ability to hunt, feed, communicate, socialize, rest, breed and care for its young.  

These are critical life processes, necessary for healthy marine mammal populations.