Seeing killer whales and other marine wildlife in their natural environment can be a thrilling experience. However, a disturbance occurs when we interfere with an animal’s ability to hunt, feed, communicate, socialize, rest, breed, or care for its young. These are critical processes, necessary for healthy marine wildlife populations.
- Regulations of Canada, the U.S., and Washington State prohibit the harassment and disturbance of killer whales and other marine mammals. Many species are listed as threatened or endangered and therefore are subject to additional protections under the Endangered Species Act (U.S.) and the Species at Risk Act (Canada).
- In Washington State, it is unlawful to:
- Approach within 200 yards of a southern resident killer whale while on board a vessel.
- Position a vessel to be in the path of a southern resident killer whale at any point located within 400 yards of the whale.
- Exceed a speed greater than 7 knots when within ½ nautical mile of a southern resident killer whale.
- Fail to disengage the transmission of a vessel immediately when within 300 yards of a southern resident killer whale.
- Local law enforcement, Washington Fish and Wildlife Officers, and NOAA Fisheries Special Agents have specified authority to enforce numerous treaties related to the conservation and protection of marine resources. Check for local protected areas and restrictions before you go boating.