See up to 4 Types of Whales from 3 Departure Locations!
Respect for whales in their natural habitat.
The southern resident orcas were recently listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act thrusting them into the spotlight here in the northwest, and around the world. There are many ongoing research projects being conducted to help preserve and protect the critical habitat for whales and other wildlife that call the Salish Sea home. Island Adventures fully supports this research and does whatever it can to aid in the collection of data that will ensure the health of our beloved orca.
How close do we get to the whales and wildlife from the Island Explorer vessels?
The global standard for whale viewing distances is 100 yards. We also recognize all County, State, and Federal laws but at times, orcas do surface close to our boats when we are shut down and quietly drifting. This is by their own choice and when this occurs, we simply let the animals pass by, waiting to start our engines again or to move until they are at least 400 yards away. Orcas, the large dolphins they are, are very curious, friendly, and playful whales. Sometimes they are quite curious about the passengers onboard, whether it be the color of their jacket, the flash on the camera, or a small child peering over the railing. We have established a trust with the pods and they have no fear whatsoever of respectful whale watching boats.
Common Misconception – Small Boats vs. Big Boats
Vessel strikes are virtually unheard of in our waters because local captains are diligent in their watch for all marine mammals while underway. We adhere to our guidelines (see PWWA below) and slowly approach any animal, never powering through. We err on the side of caution, giving much respect to these wild animals. All boats operate under the same guidelines, regardless of the size of vessel; smaller boats cannot approach any closer and vice versa.
Pacific Whale Watch Association
The Pacific Whale Watch Association is a group of both US and Canadian whale watching companies dedicated to research, education, and responsible wildlife viewing. Island Adventures has been instrumental in creating guidelines (Best Practices) for commercial operators, involved in their creation and evolution for the last 10 years. These guidelines are much more specific to our local wildlife than federal law is and they are being used as a model by other ecotourism groups around the world as well as local governmental agencies. To see our guidelines in detail please click on the link above. Our company founder, Shane Aggergaard, has held two V.P. terms and two terms as President of this international organization in which we have been members since 1996. You can be assured that when you choose Island Adventures, you’re riding with a company that cares about our wildlife.
Education and Giving Back
We do consider our vessel a floating classroom. Our naturalists and captains have a working knowledge of the San Juans, local natural history, and of course the most recent science regarding our local killer whales. We also offer seminars and presentations for classrooms and private groups throughout the year. The more we know about our local ecosystem, the harder we’ll work to protect it. Island Adventures donates a portion of all ticket sales to nonprofit organizations that help to preserve our local ecosystem.