Locals Lead the Way in Protecting Our Priceless Orca Whales

It's voluntary, but it's a start.

This summer San Juan County and its Marine Resources Committee are working closely with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife, the Pacific Whale Watch Association, the kayaking community, The Whale Museum, and the Be Whale Wise core team to encourage boaters to be more aware for the presence of orca and other whales when out on the water.

From May through September, Southern resident killer whales traditionally frequent the waters around the San Juan Islands. This is also the primary time for residents and visitors to get out on the water to recreate and travel. Safely sharing the waters with marine life, including whales, porpoise, seals and sea lions, requires special attention from all boaters. San Juan County and its Marine Resources Committee are seeking help to reduce impacts on local wildlife, especially the Southern residents.

Whether you are in a large or small, motorized or non-motorized vessel, all types of watercraft and on-water activities have the potential to impact the endangered orcas in the vicinity. The species is in significant decline due to lack of Chinook salmon, bioaccumulation of toxins and excessive underwater noise that hinders the whales’ ability to navigate, detect increasingly scarce prey and to communicate with one another.