Know the Zones

Get familiar with the minimum set back distances and speed limits in the US and Canada. 


Be Whale Wise

To learn about the laws and guidelines for boating near whales in the Salish Sea please check out Be Whale Wise. 

Boating with whales in the Salish Sea: What you need to know.

Become a Whale Steward today:

Look out for Be Whale Wise tables at ports and marinas throughout the summer boating season, and at regional boat shows throughout the year.  Flags are also available for sale in Canada or for a shipping and handling fee in Washington State from:  


Washington State


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: 

Pilot Study Report

Flag distribution 2020 - 2024

Since 2020 whale warning flags have been available through a growing variety of partners. Recreational boaters have been able to pick up flags at the regional boat shows, at local dock talks, through boating events, and directly from San Juan County and other partners. This is all thanks to the Washington State Parks Boating Program making the flags available for no cost. 

In addition, San Juan County distributed whale warning and Be Whale Wise packs to over 100 charter boat companies that operate in the inland waters of Washington State to ensure that these key educational tools are available to those who charter boats for a vacation or who are members of boat clubs and boat share groups, that are becoming increasingly popular in the region. 

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

Canada: 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 - WA State Boaters Program - Be Whale Wise.

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

Katy Foster