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be whale aware

BE WHALE AWARE CAMPAIGN


Promoting Responsible Viewing of Marine Mammals in Southern California

The Southern California Bight includes coastal Southern California, the Channel Islands and surrounding waters and is frequented by one of the largest populations of marine mammals in the world: up to 30 different species! As humpback whales, blue whales and other endangered species frequent this area in search of food, people are taking to the water to see them first-hand. However, many people don’t know that these whales are protected or that getting too close can potentially cause harm to these magnificent animals. Whales and dolphins are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act and boaters need to pay careful attention when approaching them. It’s a violation of federal law to harass or harm them and penalties can include up to one year imprisonment and fines of up to $20,000.

MARINE MAMMALS YOU MAY ENCOUNTER IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA WATERS

marine mammals of Southern California

 

BE WHALE AWARE POCKET GUIDES


A Comprehensive Public Education Campaign

Because of our concern for the future of these animals, OCS has started the BE WHALE AWARE CAMPAIGN to promote awareness in the boating community. In 2012, we published a free, pocket-sized guide illustrating which marine mammals are present in our waters and how to identify them. The guide also helps whale enthusiasts and boaters understand how to behave in the presence of whales and what the regulations are.

Recently, our BE WHALE AWARE CAMPAIGN has expanded to include an updated guide for boaters and a new guide for swimmers, surfers, paddle boarders and kayakers in both English and Spanish (available in PDF below). We also began a social media-based educational program on marine mammals of southern California to inform boating, whale-watching and water sports communities of local regulations regarding observing protected species in the wild. This effort utilizes, among others, presentations, festivals and social networking to promote engagement and ocean stewardship.

BE WHALE AWARE GUIDES - FREE DOWNLOADS


Be Whale Aware Boater's Guide


Be Whale Aware Swimmers' Guide


Be Whale Aware Spanish Guide

FOR BOATERS SWIMMER / SURFER / KAYAKER EN ESPANOL

 

CAMPAIGN GOALS



  • Promote awareness of marine mammal species frequenting Southern California waters (from Morro Bay to Chula Vista)
  • Promote safe viewing of marine mammals by informing commercial and recreational boating and water sport communities of regulations regarding harassment of cetaceans and pinnipeds set forth under the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972
  • Provide presentations to stakeholders and others in the commercial and recreational boating and water sport communities of central and southern California
  • Build relationships with private sector marine stores, fishing shops, whale-watching operators, yacht clubs, aquaria, surf & kayak stores to promote stewardship of marine life & habitat
  • Approach sea scouts, outrigger groups, beach communities, boating and school clubs to stimulate ocean conservation projects through presentations on marine mammals, regulations and conservation
Risso's dolphins swimming near cargo shipping lanes


You Can Actively Help Protect Marine Mammals

OCS works to protect whales and dolphins by making people more aware of the problems and challenges that marine mammals face, many of which are a result of human impact on the ocean environment. Humans can choose to be respectful of other creatures and their habitats and by learning more about these remarkable creatures, we can all help assure their future and well-being. Here are some specific ways you can actively help:

 

SAFE DISTANCES FOR VIEWING MARINE MAMMALS



RULES TO FOLLOW WHEN YOU ARE OUT AT SEA

DISTANCE You should remain at least 100 yards (300 feet) from cetaceans (whales and dolphins) and at least 50 yards (150 feet) from pinnipeds (sea lions).
OBSERVATION

When observing these animals at sea, make sure your actions do not cause any change in their behavior:

  • Upon sighting marine mammals stop your vessel, observe and then attempt to parallel the animal’s course.
  • NEVER follow behind, approach animals head-on, encircle or trap cetaceans between your vessel and shore.
  • If you are on a vessel and cetaceans approach you, maintain your course and speed.
  • If the animals cut your course, put the boat in neutral and wait until they clear your vessel.
  • Avoid sudden changes to vessel speed and direction. Dolphins and whales may surface unpredictably at any time or location.
  • Respect the law even if you are on a kayak, PWC, surfboard or swimming. Avoid disturbing the normal behavior of marine mammals.
  • NEVER feed, touch or ride marine mammals; it is against the law!
DURATION The animals in our ocean backyard need our help to survive and flourish, so limit your viewing time to less than 1/2 hour, and do not crowd the animals to avoid creating unnecessary stress.
Help us create better ocean stewardship by knowing, sharing and respecting the rules!

 

IF YOU SEE AN ANIMAL IN DISTRESS - PLEASE REPORT IT

Incidents of harassment of marine mammals
National Marine Fisheries Service 24 hr hotline: (800) 853 - 1964
Boaters can use VHF channel 16 to contact local authorities

Stranded animals
Keep your distance and call NMFS Southwest Regional Office: (562) 980 - 3230

Injured, entangled or ship-struck whales
24/7 WET hotline: (877) SOS - WHALE / (877) 767 - 9425


EDUCATIONAL LINKS & RESOURCES

 

  • Marine Animal Rescue
    whalerescueteam.org
    Marine Animal Rescue (formerly Whale Rescue Team) helps entangled or beached whales, dolphins, seals, sea lions and sea birds along the California coast.

    • Report a Distressed Marine Mammal or Seabird:
      EMERGENCIES in Southern California (800) 39 - WHALE
      Non-Emergencies (310) 455 - 2729


  • Marine Mammal Care Center
    marinemammalcare.org
    These centers support marine animal rehabilitation along the Southern California Coast primarily at the Marine Mammal Care Center at Fort MacArthur.
    1536 West 25th Street #427
    San Pedro, CA 90732
    (310) 832 - 4352
    mar3ine@gmail.com


  • The Marine Mammal Center
    marinemammalcenter.org
    The core work of this center is the rescue and rehabilitation of sick and injured marine mammals, supported by state-of-the-art animal care and research facilities, a corps of volunteers and an engaged community.
    2000 Bunker Road
    Fort Cronkhite, Sausalito, CA 94965-2619
    (415) 289 - 7325


  • Pacific Marine Mammal Center
    pacificmmc.org
    This Center is dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation, and release of marine mammals stranded along the Orange County coastline and to increase public awareness of the marine environment through education and research.
    20612 Laguna Canyon Rd.
    Laguna Beach, CA 9265
    (949) 494 - 3050

  • Rescue Stranding Network
    The following organizations are members of the marine mammal stranding network.
    Because this list may change over time, please refer to the National Marine Fisheries Service Stranding Network Participant page for the latest updates.

  • California Department of Fish & Wildlife
    dfg.ca.gov

Enforcement Division
Office of Spill Prevention and Response


A blue whale surfaces just a mile off Los Angeles, California

 

The current BE WHALE AWARE CAMPAIGN is supported by Lush Cosmetics


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Be Whale Aware guide logo and design: Jennifer Bass / Treehouse
Cetacean drawings: Massimo Demma

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