Responsible Wildlife Viewing

What we do to ensure we are respectful to the environment and sensitive to all wildlife

As one of the region's oldest Whale & Wildlife Watching Companies, and first one established on Orcas Island, WA we are committed to following the “Responsible Whale Watching” policy during our Whale & Wildlife tours and hope that all other companies will also adopt this approach.

Whale Watching in the Northwest is ever changing. Top researchers and scientists in the area are always  discovering and shedding light on harmful impacts whale watching and boat traffic has on our beloved Orca Whales and other marine wildlife, and proposing new alternative ideas to help improve conditions, and we take their research extremely seriously. Thats why we have adopted the Sustainable Whale Watch model.

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 as quiet as rain while we watch wildlife. The first step to reducing our impact is to establish a baseline.

By staggering our departure times we can ensure that we never have more than one boat around a group of whales.
Even if our boats are as quiet as rain, we still want to give our guests and the whales an experience that isn’t crowded. Limiting our boats around whales is a great way we reduce our impact.

We reduce our speed to 7 knots or less while watching whales.
We start this slowdown 3/4 of a mile before we are on scene with whales. The newest data suggests that speed is directly related to underwater noise that can interfere with Orca Whales' echolocation. By slowing down early you can reduce underwater noise and reduce your impact.
We limit our time with whales to 1 hour or less. Most guests are thrilled to see whales swimming freely in the wild. However after 45 or 60 minutes most people are ready for a change of scenery. Reducing your time with whales is a great way to reduce your impact.

We donate to Whale Research and conservation efforts.
This is a great way to help local researchers continue important work. Without these hardworking, dedicated people we would not have the understanding and knowledge about or marine ecosystem. Supporting research is the best way to make a difference today.

We do not watch endangered animals.
Until we have an acoustic baseline of our boats we rather stay away from endangered animals and focus on healthy ones.

We can all take steps today to help reduce our impact on our ecosystem.
It starts with a baseline knowledge and education of creatures that live in our ecosystem, and the challenges they are facing. 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 hope all operators and companies will work with the scientific community to adopt less impactful methods of interacting in this wonderful marine ecosystem. Small, simple steps are the single best way to protect our marine ecosystem today and future generations. We at Deer Harbor Charters truly feel that Whale Watching is good our community, good for our Island and good for our hearts.


we are also responsible FOR our community and our customers

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.