Whale Wise Rules

Be Whale Wise Marine Wildlife Guidelines for Boaters, Paddlers and Viewers.

Keeping a minimum distance is the law

The rules for whale watching and approaching marine mammals, which are now in effect, provide a minimum approach distance of 100 metres for most whales, dolphins and porpoises to legally protect these animals from human disturbances.

Additionally, the distance requirement will be greater for certain marine mammals, including killer whales in B.C. and the St. Lawrence Estuary Beluga in Quebec, because of the threats they already face. There is no single approach distance that is appropriate for all species of marine mammals, vessel classes, seasons, nor for all situations. The minimum approach distances are based on the best available science.

Killer whales in B.C. and Pacific Ocean

Keeping 200 metres away from killer whales in BC and the Pacific Ocean and keeping 400 metres away from all killer whales in southern BC coastal waters between Campbell River and just north of Ucluelet* (June 1 – May 31)

Eagle Eye Adventures has a permit to approach the killer whales up to 200 meters.

Vessel operators will also be asked to turn off their echo sounders and turn engines to neutral idle, if safe to do so when a whale is within 400 metres.

Be whale wise

While watching marine mammals, you should never:

  • feed them.
  • swim, dive or interact with them.
  • move, encircle them or entice them to move.
  • change directions quickly or park your boat in their path.
  • approach them when they’re resting.
  • the whale will look like it’s not moving and will be floating at the surface or near the surface.
  • separate a mammal from its group or go-between it and a calf.
  • trap a marine mammal or a group either between a vessel and the shore or between a vessel and other vessels.
  • approach them if there are already several boats present.
  • approach head-on or from behind, as this will cut off their movements.
  • tag or mark them.
  • touch, feed or disturb any animal, even if it comes up to a wharf or the shoreline.
  • approach using aircraft.

Porpoises and dolphins

If dolphins or porpoises ride the bow wave of your boat, avoid sudden course changes. Hold course and speed or reduce speed gradually. Do not drive through groups of porpoises or dolphins.

Seals and sea lions

When you encounter seals or sea lions:

  • reduce boat speed, minimize wake, wash and noise, and then slowly pass without stopping.
  • ‘wake’ is the disturbed water caused by the motion of a boat’s hull passing through the water.
  • ‘wash’ is the disturbed water caused by the propeller or jet drive.
  • avoid sudden changes in speed or direction.
  • move away slowly at the first sign of disturbance or agitation. If the animal starts to stare, fidget or dive into the water, you are too close.

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