Be Whale Wise

Be whale wise when boating and give whales space. 

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.

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.