Whale Watching in the San Juan Islands.

Whale watching in the San Juan Islands has become a $10 million industry in recent years. The Whale Museum estimates that annually more than 500,000 people go whale watching on commercial whale-watch boats in the transboundary waters of Washington and British Columbia. Another 3,000-8,000 watch whales each year from private boats.

Whale watching provides people with an opportunity to learn about and appreciate marine wildlife. As more people become aware of the importance of the marine ecosystems on this planet, increasing numbers of them will work to help preserve it.

However, it is extremely important that the large numbers of humans who watch whales and other marine animals in the wild don't disrupt the animals' environment and ability to live normal, healthy lives.

What does Soundwatch do?

Soundwatch Boater Education

The Whale Museum created the Soundwatch Boater Education Program in 1993 to educate pleasure boaters on the least intrusive ways to watch whales in the wild. On the water every day each summer, Soundwatch crews and volunteers monitor boater activity near whales.

When they see boat activity that could potentially disrupt or harm the whales, Soundwatch approaches boaters, courteously explains the rules and hands them the Be Whale Wise Guidelines brochure. The guidelines were created in conjunction with many partners, including the U.S. and Canadian federal governments and the international Pacific Whale Watch Association to assist boaters in viewing marine wildlife with minimal impact to the animals.

Soundwatch also monitors regional marine protected areas and opportunistically collects data on vessel & whale behavior.

Soundwatch is primarily an educational program and has no enforcement power. However, repeat or flagrant violations of the guidelines may be reported by anyone to the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service or to the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans, which may impose substantial fines.

What About Kayakers?

A component of the Soundwatch Boater Education Program is the Kayak Education and Leadership Program (KELP). KELP. educators teach commercial and private kayakers about marine stewardship and promote the Responsible Kayaker Code, helping to reduce disturbances to marine wildlife by irresponsible boating practices.

How is Soundwatch funded?

Funding for Soundwatch comes out of The Whale Museum's general operating budget, through federal & state contracts/grants, and private contributions. You can help support our efforts by making a donation, adopting an orca or becoming a museum member.




Be Part of the Soundwatch Boater Education Team: Summer Internships Available!

Soundwatch is a successful and internationally acclaimed education and monitoring program working to reduce vessel disturbance to orcas and other marine wildlife in the Salish Sea region of Washington State (USA) and British Columbia (Canada). Soundwatch needs interns to help conduct seasonal vessel patrols, educating boaters on regional guidelines and regulations and collecting data while monitoring vessel activities. around whales. Data from this critical program characterizes vessel activity trends around endangered orcas and other marine wildlife. Data are used to promote better boater compliance and to inform marine mammal management strategies such as state and federal vessel laws and guidelines. 

Internship based in Friday Harbor, WA, approximately 35-40 hours per week, May-September, variety of tasks both in the field on the boat and in an office setting. Typical week consists of 3-4 days on the boat and 1 day in the office.
Internship is unpaid. Shared housing at reasonable cost is likely available

Applicant requirements: At least 18 years of age, physically fit (able to lift 40 lbs), able to swim, not easily susceptible to seasickness, and familiar with database spreadsheets. Be prepared to spend substantial time aboard small (20 ft.) vessels in unpredictable weather and sea conditions. Preference will be given to undergraduates or recent graduates in the marine or wildlife sciences. Interns will need a valid US passport or a enhanced driver's license, transportation and CPR/First Aid certification. A state boater license/or equivalent safe boating card, not required, but is encouraged. Interns are required to commit to at least two months, but preferable to the full study period, May-September, plus some training time.



Please send a letter of interest, a resume, and contact information for three references. Be sure to include what dates you can start/end. 

Applications accepted until February 23, 2015.

Decisions will be made by March 14, 2015.


Please send application materials to:

ATTN Soundwatch Coordinator

P.O. Box 945

Friday Harbor, Washington 98250

Or email (preferred) to: soundwatch@whalemuseum.org



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