Vessel traffic can negatively impact many at-risk whale species in the Puget Sound region, with underwater noise disrupting hunting and communication and vessel strikes causing injury or death.

What can VTS Users do to protect whales while on the water?

Report whale sightings.

All mariners and members of the public are encouraged to report whale sightings as soon as possible through the WhaleReport app (available on Apple or Google devices), Whale Alert app (available on Apple or Google Devices), or Orca Network (webform,, or 866-ORCANET (672-2638)). 

Alternatively, the Coast Guard Cetacean Desk hosted in the Puget Sound VTS may take whale sightings reports from VTS Users by phone at (206) 217-ORCA (x6722) or on the Puget Sound VTS designated traffic channels (5A, 14)Mariners in Canadian-managed waters may report sightings to the CCG Marine Mammal Desk at (833)339-1020 or CCG radio. 

Please be prepared to provide the 1) vessel name, 2) whale species sighted, 3) number of animals, and 4) direction of travel/any behavior observed

Sightings reports through these networks, or the Cetacean Desk generate alerts that go directly to vessel operators and pilots notifying them of whale presence in their vicinity via the Whale Report Alert System (WRAS). The sightings also go into a database that helps scientists do important research on our local whales.  

VTS Users: Be notified of whales in your area. 

Eligible vessel operators and fleet operations centers are encouraged to apply for WRAS access for enhanced situational awareness while transiting. WRAS consolidates data from numerous sightings networks as well as hydrophones to get mariners timely alerts on whale presence in their vicinity.


VTS Users: Take action on the water.

What can you do if there are whales reported in your vicinity? When safety, navigation, and engineering considerations allow, VTS Users may reduce their chance of striking or disturbing whales in the following ways:  

  1. Reduce your speed. The risk of a ship striking and killing or seriously injuring a whale is greatly reduced when a ship is traveling at 10 knots or less. Slowing also reduces underwater noise that may hinder endangered Southern Resident Killer Whale (SRKW) hunting and communication.
  2. Give whales their space. Learn more about Be Whale Wise guidelines hereWhen possible and safe to do so, make gradual course changes away from the whale location or out of the path of travel.
  3. Always be on the lookout. Be vigilant for blows and other indicators of whale presence (such as gatherings of birds indicating there might be feed nearby).  
  4. Turn off ultrasonic anti-fouling systems in areas with reported killer whales. This further reduces noise pollution in the frequencies that SRKWs use to hunt and communicate.
  5. Review the International Maritime Organization’s guidelines for vessel noise reduction to find out how activities like vessel maintenance, propeller design and selection, and selection and mounting of engines and machinery can produce a quieter vessel.





Visit Be Whale Wise and the Whales in our Waters online tutorial to learn more about our local whales, including endangered SRKWs, and how mariners can help protect them by following the laws and guidelines. Additionally, the World Shipping Council developed a Whale Chart’ navigational aid compiling worldwide mandatory and voluntary governmental measures to reduce harm to whales from ships.


Report injuries/strikes, entanglements, or strandings:  

  • Call NOAA West Coast Stranding Hotline (866)767-6114  
  • Call NOAA Entanglement Hotline (877)SOS-WHAL (767-9425)  
  • Dolphin & Whale 911 app (available on Apple devices)
  • Call the Coast Guard on VHF Ch 16

In Canadian waters, call the DFO Marine Mammal Incident Reporting Hotline at 1-800-465-4336 to report occurrences of whales being harassed or disturbed, and instances of collision with whales or whale entanglements. Mariners who are unable to reach the incident reporting hotline can call CCG’s Marine Mammal Desk at 1-833-339-1020 or CCG radio.


Report incidents of harassment or disturbance of marine animals:  

  • NOAA Enforcement Hotline (800) 853-1964  
  • WDFW Enforcement Hotline (877) 933-9847 
  • Be Whale Wise Violation Report Form
  • Call the Coast Guard on VHF Ch 16