Responsible Whale Watching

Responsible Whale Watching

Five Star Whale Watching believes in Responsible & Respectful Whale Watching and is a proud member of the Pacific Whale Watch Association (PWWA). We follow all Be Whale Wise Guidelines and promote ethical and responsible Whale Watching practises. Over the past 30 plus years, we have been instrumental in the establishment of best practice whale & wildlife watching to ensure minimum disturbance to marine life. As a founding member of the Pacific Whale Watching Association Five Star has been a pioneer in promoting Responsible & respectful whale watching. We follow best practices guidelines for whale & wildlife viewing. Five Star Whale Watching is 100% committed to protecting our Marine Environment and education the public. We believe responsible and respectful Whale Watching is a key part of that protection and education as it creates strong ambassadors for environmental stewardship. As one of the longest running & respected Whale Watching & Eco-Tour operator we have taken several steps to minimize our impact on Wildlife including:

  1. Low noise/Whale Friendly propulsion – The Arneson Drive system we use has been found in several studies to have the lowest underwater noise signature.
  2. Low Sulphur Eco-Diesel Engines & modern low emission Four Stroke engines.
  3. Keeping our vessels well maintained in order to reduce our environmental impact.
  4. Following the mantra of Reduce, Reuse, Recycle in our daily operations.
  5. Follow and often exceed the Best Practice Guidelines for Whale & Wildlife viewing.
  6. We will not get closer than is responsible just so a guest can get the so called “money shot”.
  7. Be mindful that we are visitors to the marine world and be respectful & responsible during our encounters with the various marine life.

Best Practice Guidelines;


1. A vessel should approach an area of known or suspected whale activity with extreme caution.

2. A vessel within 1 km of a whale is considered to be in the vicinity of whales.

3. A vessel entering the vicinity of whales within 1 km (often we slow down even further away) of a whale is considered to be in the slow approach zone and should operate at a low wake speed. A vessel within 1 km of a whale is considered to be in the slow zone and should operate at a recommended 7 knots or less, with a reduced wake.

4. The speed transition should be observed in reverse while a vessel is departing the vicinity of whales.

5. When possible, all sonar, depth sounders, fish finders and other underwater transducers should be shut off whenever a vessel is in the vicinity of whales.


1. Vessels should remain a minimum of 1⁄2 mile (800 yards) from the light beacon of the Light House at Lime Kiln State Park on San Juan Island when whales are in the vicinity for respect for shoreline viewing.


1. Vessels should remain a minimum of 1⁄4 mile (400 yards) from the main shoreline of the west side of San Juan Island when between Eagle Point and Mitchell Point when whales are present.


1. “Go Slow Zone” = 1/8 mile (220 yards) from any rock or landmass around Race Rocks.

2. Vessels will slow on their approach to Race Rocks such that speed at 1/8 mile (220 yards) from any rock or landmass is reduced to approx… 7 knots (minimal wake and wash, relative to the condition of the seas state at the particular time).

3. Vessels in the Go Slow Zone will remain as close to mid-channel as is practicable between the major rock outcroppings known as Great Race, North Race Rock, West Race Rock, and Helicopter Rock.

4. While in the Go Slow Zone vessels will transit the area with the current whenever conditions are suitable to do so. Drifting is encouraged relative to other boat traffic and where safe navigation is not compromised.

5. Vessels exiting the area may increase speed gradually outside the Go Slow Zone.

6. Vessels will remain 1/8 mile (220 yards) outside the Go Slow Zone whenever any whale species are present in the Race Rocks Reserve (Go Slow Zone).

Our aim is always to view any marine life respectfully and responsibly, we are visitors to their world!

1% For The Planet

Five Star Whale Watching is a proud member of 1% For The Planet. We recognize that we have a responsibility #forourplanet and are committed to creating a positive impact. Because of this, we donate 1% of our sales to #nonprofits focused on #environmental issues.

Copyright 2016 Five Star Whale Watching | All Rights Reserved | Crafted by FOE

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