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4VI gratefully acknowledges the Kwakwaka’wakw, Nuu-chah-nulth, and Coast Salish Peoples that have been caring for the lands and waters we operate on since time immemorial.

All photos on this page were taken in accordance with legal avoidance distances using telephoto lenses.

Whale watching is more than just a thrilling adventure; it’s a profound encounter with some of Earth’s most magnificent creatures. Yet, amidst this awe-inspiring experience lies a critical responsibility: responsible viewing and sharing of experiences.

In order to increase understanding of the importance of marine species and the need to reduce threats, it’s imperative to promote whale watching experiences in a manner that prioritizes their well-being and that of the marine ecosystem.

We are asking visitors and locals to please, view and share responsibly.

Humpback Whale Argonaut (BCY0729), ©Marine Education & Research Society, Marine Mammal License MML-57

Ethical marketing practices ensure that tourists and locals alike view these majestic creatures in a manner that respects their natural habitats and behaviours, minimizing disturbance and fostering a sustainable relationship between humans and wildlife.

Vancouver Island’s whale watching industry not only provides unparalleled opportunities for awe-inspiring viewing of orca, humpback and gray whales, dolphins, porpoises, seals, sea lions and otters, but also serves as a beacon of responsible tourism. By embracing ethical marketing principles, operators and enthusiasts can contribute to the preservation of these iconic marine species for generations to come, ensuring that the privilege of whale watching remains an enriching and sustainable experience for all.

4VI is grateful to the Marine Education & Resource Society (MERS) and the North Island Marine Mammal Stewardship Association (NIMMSA) for sharing their knowledge and insights with us.

The highest measure of an experience is if it happens as if you weren’t there.”

Jackie Hildering, The Marine Detective, Co-Founder and Education & Communications Director of MERS, Biologist, Humpback Researcher.
Orca and black bear, Vancouver Island North. Credit: Vancouver Island North Tourism/Josh McGarel

What you need to know about responsible marine mammal viewing on Vancouver Island:

For detail on the laws and best practices for marine mammal viewing, learn more at

Canada’s Marine Mammal Regulations
Whale Warning Flag
AV Flag

Due to another law, the Management Measures to Protect Southern Resident Killer Whales, the minimum avoidance distance is 400 metres in the area from Cape Mudge to Ucluelet, with the exception of whale watch operators who have signed, and adhere to, the Sustainable Whale Watching Agreement. These operators may view non-Southern Resident killer whales at an avoidance distance of 200m and fly a purple “Authorized Vessel” flag (AV Flag) as pictured above.

Further best practices to increase marine mammal and boater safety

Choosing a whale watching tour operator

There are many responsible wildlife watching operators on Vancouver Island. When booking with an operator, here are a few tips:

Best practices for social media sharing

Further resources:

Thank you, for being mindful of your visit to our home, and for the preservation of these incredible species.