Photo: MERS



If you have a flag:

  • When you encounter whales within 0.65 miles (1km) of you raise the flag
  • Slow down to 7 knots or less
  • Maintain compliance with Be Whale Wise Guidelines and laws
  • Turn off fish finders and/or depth sounders.

If you see a flag:

  • Whales are in the vicinity of the boat or land station flying the flag.
  • Slow down to 7 knots or less
  • Maintain compliance with Be Whale Wise Guidelines and laws.
  • Turn off fish finders and/or depth sounders

2018-2019 Pilot Study

The San Juan County MRC embarked on a 2-year pilot study in 2018 to determine if the flag was an effective tool at shifting boater behavior. 

The MRC worked closely with the Soundwatch Boater Education Program to collect data on vessel numbers and compliance with the Be Whale Wise regulations and guidelines. 

The MRC also undertook a series of public and boater evaluations to better understand who the boating public in the San Juan's were, the general awareness levels of Be Whale Wise, and collect views and understanding of the flag. 

The results of this study were published in 2020 and are available for download here: 

Whale warning flag pilot study

These groups and organizations are partnering in, or supporting the Whale Warning Flag project.

Marine Research and Education Society - NIMMSA -
Soundwatch Boater Education Program - The Whale Museum - WDFW - NOAA - Pacific Whale Watch Association - Whatcom MRC - Skagit MRC - Snohomish MRC -Jefferson MRC - NW Straits Commission - Northwest Marine Trade Association.

Funding for this project has been received from:
Puget Sound Partnership, EPA, Marine Mammal Commission, the NW Straits Foundation, and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation

Jeanne Hyde