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There are very clear rules regading behavior around whales. A boat may not approach within 100 yards of a whale. Any actions which cause whales to change behavior is considered harrassment and is punishable by a $10,000 fine. Safe approaches are at an angle to a parallel position. No head on or tail on approaches are acceptable. Surrounding whales with multiple boats, getting between whales, or leap-frogging to get ahead of a moving whale are also prohibited. If whales are known to be nearby, but their precise location is uncertain, the engine should, if on, should be kept running, but put in neutral. Since whales are unpredictable, it is best to maintain a low speed. Counter to some advice above, do not start your motor if you are in the midst of a group of whales. In that situation, put yourself in irons and wait for the whales to leave the area before starting the motor.
Good behavior around whales is richly rewarded. When the whales feel safe, they will often come close and give you great looks and super pictures.