Presentation Abstract

The Soundwatch Boater Education Program is a vessel monitoring and public education outreach program. Soundwatch has been run by The Whale Museum (TWM) during the whale watch season (May through September) in the Haro Strait Region of the Central Salish Sea since 1993. Data collection has been in a consistent manner since 1998. The program compiles data on vessel types and vessel interactions with marine mammals with a focus on the Southern Resident killer whale (SRKW), Orcinas orca, which was listed as endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 2005. The primary goal of the Soundwatch program is to reduce vessel disturbance to SRKWs and other marine wildlife through the education of boaters on regional, local and federal guidelines and regulations and the systematic monitoring of vessel activities around cetaceans. Data collection by Soundwatch consists of: 1) Vessel counts within 0.8 km of large species of cetaceans (killer whales, gray whales, minke whales, humpback whales, fin whales, etc); 2) cetacean identification, location, travel direction and behavior; 3) recreational vessel contact information; and 4) vessel non-compliance with local, state and federal guidelines and/or regulations. Since 1998, the number of active commercial whale watching vessels dropped to a low of 63 in 1999, and then reached a peak of 96 in 2015. Overall the number of vessel incidents or violation of regulations and guidelines has increased in the past 18 years from a low of 398 in 1998 to 1635 in 2015 with a high of 2621 in 2012. The number of vessels has not significantly changed over the years while some incidents have significantly increased over time. This result suggests a need for further outreach for effective education and enforcement of whale watching guidelines and regulations in the Central Salish Sea.

Session Title

Snapshot Presentations

Keywords

Soundwatch, Boater education, Incidents

Conference Track

SSE17: Snapshots

Conference Name

Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference (Seattle, WA : 2018)

Document Type

Event

SSEC Identifier

SSE17-26

Start Date

5-4-2018 10:30 AM

End Date

5-4-2018 10:35 AM

Type of Presentation

Oral

Contributing Repository

Digital content made available by University Archives, Heritage Resources, Western Libraries, Western Washington University.

Geographic Coverage

Salish Sea (B.C. and Wash.)

Rights

This resource is displayed for educational purposes only and may be subject to U.S. and international copyright laws. For more information about rights or obtaining copies of this resource, please contact University Archives, Heritage Resources, Western Libraries, Western Washington University, Bellingham, WA 98225-9103, USA (360-650-7534; heritage.resources@wwu.edu) and refer to the collection name and identifier. Any materials cited must be attributed to the Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference Records, University Archives, Heritage Resources, Western Libraries, Western Washington University.

Type

text

Language

English

Format

application/pdf

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Apr 5th, 10:30 AM Apr 5th, 10:35 AM

Soundwatch: eighteen years of monitoring whale watch vessel activities in the Salish Sea

The Soundwatch Boater Education Program is a vessel monitoring and public education outreach program. Soundwatch has been run by The Whale Museum (TWM) during the whale watch season (May through September) in the Haro Strait Region of the Central Salish Sea since 1993. Data collection has been in a consistent manner since 1998. The program compiles data on vessel types and vessel interactions with marine mammals with a focus on the Southern Resident killer whale (SRKW), Orcinas orca, which was listed as endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 2005. The primary goal of the Soundwatch program is to reduce vessel disturbance to SRKWs and other marine wildlife through the education of boaters on regional, local and federal guidelines and regulations and the systematic monitoring of vessel activities around cetaceans. Data collection by Soundwatch consists of: 1) Vessel counts within 0.8 km of large species of cetaceans (killer whales, gray whales, minke whales, humpback whales, fin whales, etc); 2) cetacean identification, location, travel direction and behavior; 3) recreational vessel contact information; and 4) vessel non-compliance with local, state and federal guidelines and/or regulations. Since 1998, the number of active commercial whale watching vessels dropped to a low of 63 in 1999, and then reached a peak of 96 in 2015. Overall the number of vessel incidents or violation of regulations and guidelines has increased in the past 18 years from a low of 398 in 1998 to 1635 in 2015 with a high of 2621 in 2012. The number of vessels has not significantly changed over the years while some incidents have significantly increased over time. This result suggests a need for further outreach for effective education and enforcement of whale watching guidelines and regulations in the Central Salish Sea.