Did you know that when marine mammals are approached by a vessel, their behaviour can be altered or interrupted, affecting vital activities such as foraging, communication, and mating? There is concern that the cumulative impacts of these types of exposures will cause habituation to human activities and/or threaten the survival of individual animals.

There are a number of actions that you can take to help reduce the impact of your vessel on marine mammals:

  1. Be cautious: look where you’re going and be aware of wildlife in the areaWhale Wise
  2. Slow down: reduce your vessel to a no-wake speed when within 400 m of a marine mammal
  3. Remain on course: avoid quick changes in direction
  4. View from the side: avoid approaching animals directly from the front or behind, and travel parallel to their direction of movement
  5. Avoid approaches closer than 100 m: do not approach animals closer than this distance (the approach limit is 200 m for Southern Resident killer whales)
  6. Wait: if wildlife approaches you within the 100 m limit, put your vessel in neutral until they pass
  7. Stay offshore: if whales are traveling close to shore, remain offshore from them
  8. Limit encounter time to 30 minutes or less: this will reduce cumulative exposure to vessels and give others a chance to view
  9. Do not disturb: never swim, touch, or feed marine mammals
  10. Avoid bow riding: do not encourage marine mammals to bow ride; if they do, remain on course and speed, or reduce speed gradually

Our collaborators at the Vancouver Aquarium just released a new video summarizing their “Be Whale Wise” guidelines. Take a look and be sure to implement these measures on your next outing!


Boating season is starting soon, please watch and share our new "Be Whale Wise" video – thank you!

Posted by Vancouver Aquarium on Wednesday, 1 April 2015


SMRU Consulting now offers accredited training for the UK-based WiSE (Wildlife Safe) Scheme. WiSE courses follow these marine wildlife viewing guidelines and teach vessel operators how to safely and responsibly watch and navigate around marine wildlife. For more information on attending a WiSE course, visit their website here.