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Go Back   SailNet Community > Out There > Destinations > Pacific Northwest & Alaska
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  #1  
Old 09-27-2011
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Orca etiquette

One of the things we're looking forward to on moving to BC is the prospect of seeing some of the local wildlife up close (and I'm not talking about the results of the Canicks losing the finals...).

But, I'm mindful that you should do things a certain way around orcas and other cetaceans if you want to get close to them (such as tapping on the hull of your kayak if you're in one, or perhaps letting them come to you, rather than the other way around). Are there similar things that a yachtie can do to alert them to our presence, and are there any laws or other rules that one should observe?

Thanks!

Last edited by Armchairsailor2; 09-27-2011 at 08:11 AM. Reason: To avoid sounding like a complete tourist/ idiot
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Old 09-27-2011
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Google will return many links to regulations:

http://www.whale-museum.org/programs...Guidelines.pdf

On the mid-Alantic coast we only have bottlenose dolphins, and still there are too many tour operations and they get too close. But the dolphins seem more resilient.

I see getting close to orcas as like getting close to grizzly bears; 99% of the time it's simply exciting, and 1%.... I've had my share of solo grizzly expereinces and don't want any more. It's too easy to disrupt nature.
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Old 09-27-2011
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We fished for many years in the Hakai Pass area and have had Orcas swim right through the boats very close by while trolling. They don't appear to be afraid of anything. If you see some a ways off and want a better look you can approach them at trolling speed and they don't seem to mind. Anything faster I am sure is frowned on by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans who can appear out of nowhere in seconds. Bottom line is watch but don't chase.

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Old 09-27-2011
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I'm not sure what the regs are in BC but here in the States we have a 200 yard/meter restriction meaning you have to stay that far away from them. Difficult to do since they don't seem to understand the rules:-)) We've had them swim directly under our boats several times and come alongside to take a look at us, they know precisely where you are and it would be impossible to hit them in a sailboat IMHO (fast power boat is a definite danger to them). We don't go out "whale watching" much anymore because there's usually a large crowd of commercial boats around them all the time during the tourist season. When you do encounter them and it's just you and them and they come over and look you in the eye from a few feet away, or they breach close to your boat, it's a special experience you never forget.
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Old 09-27-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dabnis View Post
We fished for many years in the Hakai Pass area and have had Orcas swim right through the boats very close by while trolling. They don't appear to be afraid of anything.
They aren't. They are the apex predator so they are kind of like polar bears in that regard - they don't HAVE anything to be afraid of. Apparently they will even take on great whites.
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Old 09-27-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jrd22 View Post
I'm not sure what the regs are in BC but here in the States we have a 200 yard/meter restriction meaning you have to stay that far away from them. Difficult to do since they don't seem to understand the rules:-))
Same rules in Canada.



Taken when the rule was 100 meters. I still got spoken to by the officials (black RIB) when the whales approached us.
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Old 09-27-2011
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It was our experience that they almost always were on the move. As mentioned we have seen them come right through a bunch of boats trolling or motor mooching and I can't recall anyone trying to run away from them. However, that being said, if DFO was in the area and you didn't make a reasonable effort to keep the 200 yards distance I suppose they could ticket you. I think the basic rule could be just dont chase them at any speed at all. But who knows, if DFO finds you are not Canadian it could be "get out your wallet time" ?

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Old 09-27-2011
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Official guidelines

This is much the same info, just from the whale organisations point of view clicky

There are fairly significant fines and punishments for hassling marine life.
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Old 09-27-2011
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Originally Posted by PaulinVictoria View Post
Official guidelines

There are fairly significant fines and punishments for hassling marine life.
It's always good to get the regulations directly from the organization that will be busting you if you screw up.

Dabnis - I've known enough fish cops over the years that I highly doubt a choice between "educating" and fining you will have anything to do with your nationality.
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Old 09-28-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nautichthys View Post
It's always good to get the regulations directly from the organization that will be busting you if you screw up.

Dabnis - I've known enough fish cops over the years that I highly doubt a choice between "educating" and fining you will have anything to do with your nationality.
I can only speak from my own experience. We fished the Hakai Pass area for over 25 years, the first 20 on our own the last 5 with a guide due to health problems. Over those years we were inspected many times by DFO. It was interesting to watch them inspect other boats near us, basically a quick look for barbless hooks and they were off to another boat. When they came to us and found we were from California it became a full boat inspection even though they knew it was the Lodge's boat and not ours. When we were with a guide it was genarally something like "How is it going, (guide's name), how many fish do you have?, say hello to your wife for me, eh?

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