As one of the region's oldest Whale & Wildlife Watching Companies we at Deer Harbor Charters are committed to following a “Responsible Wildlife Viewing Method” and hope that all other companies adopt this approach.
Deer Harbor Charters is proud to be in our third decade of wildlife tours. Since 1988, we have educated tens of thousands of guests about our local ecosystem. Today, as industry leaders, we continually try to improve our guest experience while using current science to reduce our impacts to wildlife and our community. Unlike conventional whale watching, we recognize that the simple act of using a vessel to view wildlife has an impact. That's why we are taking steps to reduce this impact and created our own Responsible Wildlife Viewing Method (RWVM).
What Is the Responsible Wildlife Viewing Method?
Unlike conventional whale watching, five basic components make up the RWVM. Just think 1117NO
1 - $1 per person for conservation or restoration. We donate $2 from each ticket and let you choose who receives the funds! Not an extra tax.
2- 1 hour viewing whales as a maximum
3 - One company boat around whales at a time.
4 - 7 Knots or less around whales.
5 - NO watching distressed or critically endangered wildlife.
Why Are the Issues Outlined in the RWVM the Most Important?
Local researchers have identified 4 & 5 (limiting speed to 7 knots and not watching distressed or critically endangered wildlife) as a significant positive impact to wildlife. Likewise, as one of the oldest wildlife tour companies in the region (over three decades). Deer Harbor Charters has identified 1, 2, & 3 (1 hour viewing, 7 knots around whales, Not watching distressed or endangered wildlife) as additional significant positive impacts to wildlife and our community.
Why have researchers identified 3 & 4 as positive impacts?
Local research has found that reducing speed around whales & wildlife to 7 knots or less dramatically reduces underwater noise. At that speed the noise underwater is similar to rain falling on the waters surface. Researchers have also suggested that vessel presence may increase wildlife disruptions (getting to close) and may impact feeding . Although the data is not conclusive and more research needs to be conducted in this area, we want to take a proactive stance and give sick, distress or critically endangered species more space and more opportunities to feed and rest.
Why Has Deer Harbor Charters Identified 1, 2 , & 3 as positive impacts?
1- Local researchers compete to secure funding. This often leads to researchers studying projects that are vastly different from colleagues. We hope with more funding researchers can collaborate on similar projects more frequently. Two minds are better then one and we have some very big challenges with our ecosystems. 2&3 - By limiting the number of vessels and time vessel view wildlife, we collectively reduce large clusters around wildlife and the time those clusters linger. We still want to give our guests, our community and the whales an experience that isn't crowded. Change has to start somewhere.
We are working with local researchers to have our boats acoustically tested.
These Vessel Sound Profiles will allow us to have an accurate idea of the underwater noise of our boats. Our goal is to be quieter then rain while we watch wildlife, like a fly on the wall. The first step to reducing our impact is to establish a baseline.
We can all take simple steps today to reduce our footprint on the ecosystem.
First, we need to learn about the creatures that live in the ecosystem and the challenges they face. Then we need to establish a baseline and knowledge of our own impacts. If you are feeling inspired it might be time to make a few changes of your own. We hope you will join us for a tour so we can tell you all about what we are doing, as well as teach you ways to have a positive impact yourselves! We at Deer Harbor Charters truly feel that whale & wildlife watching is good our community, good for our Island and good for our hearts. We hope you enjoy your trip.
We are responsible to our customers. Full Transparency. We always give our guests a “whale report” before they board the vessel. If whales are not in the area the day of the tour, guests can choose to book for a different day or cancel with no penalty. If guests join anyway and no whales are in the area, guests will receive a free return voucher for another day. We will never make stops to pick up more guests. It’s your tour and it shouldn’t feel like a bus stop. We also know what it’s like to go on vacation only to have your children keep you up all night. That’s why we removed our cancelation policy. Just give us a call at lease 1 hour before your tour. If you can’t make the trip, no problem. It’s that easy.
We are responsible to our employee’s. We hire local employee’s and pay them a real livable wage. Many of whom have been with us and viewing our local wildlife for 10-20 years. That means they you get some of the most knowledgeable wildlife experts onboard as well as local Orcas Island experts. Have a question; you’ll find the answer.
We are responsible to our community. Each year we donate free trips to island residents, local fundraises, researchers, Orcas Island schools and Orcas Senior Center. We want our community to be involved and have access to view our local wildlife.