whale watching


Active Member
a question for the assembled experts: i understand there are restrictions in place for the whale watching tour boats and proximity to orca. i also seem to remember something to the effect that these boats must not block the critters by positioning between them and open water.

the question i have is whether or not these viewing restrictions also apply to other whale species?? any clarification is appreciated along with some indication of just who is supposed to enforce.

the reason i am asking is this past week a lone gray whale took up residence off of the dungness spit bluff feeding just outside the kelp beds for some days now. apparently this being the only viewable critter, the tour boats from VICTORIA have all decended on this poor hungry whale. its very easy to watch the show from dry land and i am sure all of the distances i alluded to above are being ignored.

thanks for you help


Active Member
thank you mr E, that is exactly what i was looking for. if the gray continues to hand out and the tour boats continue to invade it's territory, i will make that phone call along with a ch 16 broadcast on the VHF reminding them of the restrictions!


Active Member
Last summer along Beach Drive Southwest south of Alki Point, there was a seal pup resting on the beach and a group of women had strung up caution tape across the sidewalk that sits atop an approximate 10-to-15-foot tall bulkhead. Crossing the tape was met with arm waving and a scolding that the tape was there so you would stay 100 yards from the pup and if you got within 100 yards you were in violation of federal law and the Feds would soon be knocking on your door. They didn’t seem to care that blocking of the sidewalk forced pedestrians into the street.

I later did some research on the web and found the Marine Mammal Protection Act does not specify a distance you must maintain from marine mammals, only that you cannot harass, hunt, capture, or kill them (Makahs excluded). Each NOAA region has there own guidelines for viewing marine mammals and it looks like most of them have a recommended 50 to 100-yard viewing distance depending on the species. My guess, for what it’s worth, is if the boats are within the distance guidelines for more than a half hour at a time, it may be considered harassment.

The Whale Watching Guidelines for the Northwest Region are attached and here’s a link to the guidelines for all the regions.