The Whale Hotline public sighting network was initiated in the spring of 1976 as a means for members of the public to make collect calls to report Orca sightings in Washington state to the Orca Survey. In 1977 the current toll-free number was established (800-562-8832) and its focus was expanded to include reports of all species of cetaceans and marine mammal strandings in Washington state.
In addition to building a valuable longitudinal database, the Whale Hotline has successfully allowed a large spectrum of the public to directly participate in the stewardship of local marine mammals. Check out the Monthly Arrival & Departures of Southern Resident orcas in the Salish Sea, documented since 1976. This valuable information helps identify and determine critical habitat for these endangered orcas.
Have you seen killer whales or other marine mammals? Help us collect important data by reporting your sighting.
Phone: 1-800-562-8832 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Step 1: Report
Researchers, marine naturalists and members of the general public submit thousands of marine mammal sighting reports online, by phone and by email each year. These sighting reports are then compiled by The Whale Museum so that they can be confirmed.
Step 2: Confirm
Once a sighting report has been received, our staff at The Whale Museum then works to confirm the sighting, which is why we ask for your contact information when you make a report. If we need more information for some reason, we'll get in touch with you!
Step 3: Publish
When a sighting has been confirmed, it is entered into our Whale Hotline database. After that, sighting data is made available to researchers, observers and the general public via our website and public API for processing and analysis.
We maintain a long-term database of sightings.
Thousands of marine mammal sightings are submitted to The Whale Hotline each year through partnerships with local researchers, non-profit organizations, commercial whale watch operators, marine naturalists and members of the general public.
The Whale Museum maintains the data archives of this unique long-term dataset and makes it available to numerous research, education and management projects all over the world. Check out our public API if you are interested in working with sighting data.
In addition, each year Hotline sighting data is submitted to NOAA as part of the Southern Resident Killer Whale Recovery Plan.
Funding for the Whale Hotline comes out of The Whale Museum's general operating budget with occasional contributions and grant funding. Currently, WDFW is helping to support these efforts.