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Guidelines for boaters

artwork showing boat and whale in water and full view of whale under water

Art by Dawn Witherington

Right whales spend much of their time just below the surface and can top 50 feet long and 100,000 pounds. Collisions have caused costly damage to boats, put passengers and crew at risk, and have injured and killed right whales.

Guidelines for boaters:

  • Going slow may give you time to react. Right whales can be extremely hard to spot.
  • Post a lookout! Watch for black objects, whitewater, and splashes. Avoid boating in the dark, when visibility is poor, or in rough seas.
  • Use the Whale Alert app to know if whales have recently been sighted or reported in your area.
  • Check for signage at your local boat ramp or marina as a reminder of what to look for and how to identify and report right whale sightings.
  • If a whale is spotted, slow down, operate at slow speed or put your engine in neutral if possible. Assess the scene and slowly leave the area while keeping watch. Never pursue or follow a whale and keep at least 500 yards from right whales (it's the law).
  • Report whale sightings to the proper authorities.
  • Report whale collisions as well as dead and entangled whales to the U.S. Coast Guard on marine VHF Ch. 16 or NOAA hotline at 877-WHALE-HELP (942-5343).