Respect for whales in their natural habitat
Since 1996, our goal at Island Adventures has been to educate and inspire guests from all over the globe through responsible ecotourism. People protect what they love, and we feel strongly that sharing a memorable encounter with whales in their natural habitat is far more powerful than reading about them in a book or seeing them on television.
We're extremely proud of our reputation as a leader among the sustainable whale-watching community, adhering to all state and federal laws regarding marine mammal viewing. We work closely with scientific researchers and law enforcement agencies to develop whale-watching guidelines that put the whales' health and safety first. Some examples include operating at slow speeds when whales are in the area and parallel-viewing beside the whales so as to not disturb their travel. When viewing whales, our vessels are quieter than the sound of rainfall. While on rare occasions curious whales will choose to approach us, these encounters must always occur on the whales' terms and should not be expected.
Pacific Whale Watch Association
The Pacific Whale Watch Association (PWWA) is a group of both US and Canadian whale watching companies dedicated to conservation, education, and responsible wildlife viewing. The PWWA is the most precautionary and cooperative group of professional whale watchers in the world and has been used as a model for sustainable ecotourism for years. Island Adventures' founder, Shane Aggergaard, has served several terms as President, Vice President, and Executive Board Member of the PWWA and we have been PWWA members since 1996. You can be assured that when you choose Island Adventures, you’re riding with a company that cares about wildlife and will watch whales responsibly.
Sentinels at Sea
We take our role as sentinels on the water seriously, helping to model ideal whale-watching behavior for other vessels in the area and making sure that they too are operating safely around animals. Data from the boater education group Soundwatch show that both the total number of vessels around whales and the number of boating infractions around whales decrease when professional whale watchers flying the "Whale Warning Flag" are present.
Our captains also notify ferries, cargo ships, cruise ships, and military vessels when whales are nearby so that they can alter course. By all working together, we can help ensure that future generations also have an opportunity to see these special animals in the Salish Sea.
Small Boats vs. Big Boats
There is a common misconception that small boats are allowed to view whales from closer distances than larger boats. All vessels, even non-motorized vessels like kayaks and sailboats, must operate under the same legal guidelines, regardless of the size of vessel. If you see a company advertising that they get closer to whales than everyone else, they are breaking the law!
Larger, more elevated vessels like the Island Explorer 5 are ideal viewing platforms for whale-watching, allowing guests to see wildlife more easily and capture breathtaking photographs you might miss from a smaller vessel.
Education and Giving Back
We consider our vessel a floating classroom. Our naturalists and captains have a working knowledge of the San Juans, local natural history, and the most recent science regarding our whales and other wildlife. You won't find our crew reading from a script. Each tour is vastly different and you're guaranteed to see and learn something new and exciting on every tour.
In addition to our guaranteed whale tours, we also offer field trips, seminars, and presentations for classrooms and private groups throughout the year. The more we know about our local ecosystem, the harder we’ll work to protect it. Island Adventures is proud to donate to several local nonprofit organizations each year that help to study and preserve our area's natural resources.
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See what we've seen on the water. There's a detailed account from every tour since 2003!