Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Watch Out for Whales!

October 31, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

stranded whale courtesy NOAA Fisheries' West Coast Marine Mammal Stranding Network

Courtesy NOAA Fisheries’ West Coast Marine Mammal Stranding Network

Whether looking for them or not, cold weather boaters often spot whales (and other marine mammals). Did you know that these creatures are protected and may not be approached or disturbed?

While the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries division doesn’t want to discourage recreational boaters and cruisers from enjoying the sight of whales and other sea critters in their natural habitats, part of NOAA’s mission is to stop disruptions and destruction of the animals and their homes. NOAA’s plan of action is two-fold: educating the public about the do’s and don’ts of viewing and increasing law enforcement against threatening behaviors.

watching marine wildlife by Claire Fackler NOAA

Courtesy Claire Fackler NOAA

The Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 protects all marine mammals. Violators found to have fed, disturbed, harmed, or destroyed protected species are subject to costly civil penalties, criminal penalties, and possible imprisonment. Boaters should pay heed to the warnings and guidelines surrounding the act — following them protects sea species and prevents boaters and passengers from inadvertently or negligently committing a crime.

Here’s what you need to know to respect, protect, and enjoy sea creatures, as well as what to do if you encounter one in distress:


NOAA whale watching guidelines

Courtesy NOAA

Whale regulations and code of conduct for viewing:


Safe whale watching:



Reporting a stranded or beached whale:


Laws and Regulations Protecting Whales






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