Photo: MERS

The Whale Warning Flag

The Whale Warning Flag was first introduced around Northern Vancouver Island by the North Island Marine Mammal Stewardship Association (NIMMSA) as a means of addressing the growing number of negative interactions between boats and humpback whales. By using the same flag design we are collectively promoting and strengthening a consistent message of good boating behavior around whales throughout the coastal waters of British Columbia, Canada and Washington State, USA.

Why a pilot study?

We are piloting the use of this flag during 2018 to determine whether or not it is an effective social prompt for shifting boater behavior around whales and in waters frequented by whales.

We will be working with the Soundwatch Boater Education Program to collect data on vessel numbers and compliance levels of the Be Whale Wise Guidelines and laws. We will also be running a series of public surveys to assess boater awareness and general response to the flag program

Be Whale Wise

To learn more about the Be Whale Wise guidelines and the laws on boating in the vicinity of killer whales in Washington State see:

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 of fish finders and/or depth sounders

Be a part of our study by participating in the pre-study survey

Click here for the survey or complete below

If you would like a flag for your boat email us at