Be Whale Wise

Be Whale Wise is a coordinated effort between the U.S. and Canada with multiple commercial, non-profit and environmental non-governmental organizations, law enforcement and state programs dedicated to educating the public and raising awareness within the boating community. 

Vessel noise and traffic impact the survival of southern resident killer whales. These whales — also called orcas — are listed as endangered under the federal Endangered Poster showing motorized boat and orca whale, educating people about the Be Whale Wise laws.Species Act.

As a boater or paddler, you can do your part to protect whales and keep yourself safe by following Be Whale Wise regulations, which include:

  • Stay at least 300 yards from southern resident killer whales and at least 400 yards out of the path behind or in front of the whales. More information.
  • Slow down to 7 knots within a ½ mile of whales.
  • Watch for and use the Whale Warning Flag, which helps notify other boaters of whales nearby. Slow down if you see the flag. 
  • Turn off fish finders and depth sounders if you see whales in the distance.
  • Encourage positive behavior by reporting violators.

Approaching or trying to feed southern resident killer whales is punishable by law and carries a minimum fine of $1,025, not including statutory assessments.

There's a app for that: The Whale Alert App helps you practice citizen science by providing a user-friendly tool directly on your tablet or smart phone that displays whale "safety zones." The app also allows you to report any live, dead or distressed whale sightings to the appropriate response agency. 

Want more information?

  • Learn how you can keep the whales — and yourself— safe. Visit
  • Learn how to use the 'Whale Warning Flag' or get one of your own.
  • Learn more about killer whale conservation and management from Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.