NOAA Killer Whale patrols begin in San Juan Islands
NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement (OLE) will soon begin seasonal summer patrols in Haro Strait around Washington’s San Juan Islands. Officers will be enforcing special Federal regulations designed to protect endangered Southern Resident killer whales by keeping boat traffic at a safe distance from the whales.
This is the sixth year implementing NOAA Fisheries’ regulations that require whale watching vessels and most other vessels to remain at least 200 yards away from the killer whales and to keep their path clear so they are protected from disturbance by boat traffic. NOAA Fisheries identified vessel traffic noise as one of three key threats to the whales. This year the Agency is reviewing how effective the regulations have been at protecting the whales.