Education seems to be the key word at this juncture. Behaviors of the numerous vessels vary significantly, but when watching them from shore- sometimes you just have to wonder what people are thinking. Two of four baseline behavior examples from yesterday- three years after the orcas were placed on the endangered species list...
We watched these two head from the south, cross in front of the whales to get "a perfect" position- hope they got the great shot they were after (even if at the whales' expense):
And this group pulled directly in front of the whales after having come between the pod and the shoreline...amazing the whales were not injured or the boat, for that matter.
All in all, the private boaters were out in hoards yesterday. But thankfully, so was NOAA- and this is how the story ends...
We all have the OBLIGATION to familiarize ourselves with the regulations before encountering the whales in the wild. I, like everyone else, enjoy the encounters we have with the whales- but also want the whales to thrive and continue their travels through the islands. With salmon recovery plans underway and pollution initiatives becoming realized- it's now up to us to look at our own behavior and how we can impact their survival. Kudos to NOAA for their prompt and aggressive enforcement efforts yesterday- it's time well spent in the quest to save the species.
1. BE CAUTIOUS and COURTEOUS: approach areas of known or suspected marine wildlife activity with extreme caution. Look in all directions before planning your approach or departure.
2. SLOW DOWN: reduce speed to less than 7 knots when within 400 metres/yards of the nearest whale. Avoid abrupt course changes.
3. KEEP CLEAR of the whales’ path. If whales are approaching you, cautiously move out of the way.
4. DO NOT APPROACH whales from the front or from behind. Always approach and depart whales from the side, moving in a direction parallel to the direction of the whales.
5. DO NOT APPROACH or position your vessel closer than 100 metres/yards to any whale.
6. If your vessel is not in compliance with the 100 metres/yards approach guideline (#5), place engine in neutral and allow whales to pass.
7. STAY on the OFFSHORE side of the whales when they are traveling close to shore.
8. LIMIT your viewing time to a recommended maximum of 30 minutes. This will minimize the cumulative impact of many vessels and give consideration to other viewers.
9. DO NOT swim with, touch or feed marine wildlife.
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