The Whale Trail

Our mission is to inspire appreciation and stewardship of whales and our marine environment by establishing a network of viewing sites along the whales' trails throughout the Salish Sea and along the Pacific Coast. Our goals are to increase awareness that our marine waters are home to orcas and other species; connect visitors to orcas, other marine wildlife and their habitat; inspire stewardship and build community; and promote land-based whale watching.

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Address: 6523 California Ave SW #410
Seattle, WA 98136-2069
Phone Number: 206-919-5397
EIN: 27-3093674
The Whale Trail is a series of sites to view orcas or other marine mammals from shore.  Each site has a page on our website, and many feature interpretive signs. From 16 inaugural sites in Washington, there are now more than 90 spanning the west coast from California to British Columbia, throughout and beyond SRKW range. Whale Trail sites are in city, county, state and national parks and tribal lands. Through our signs, including two on every Washington state ferry, we reach more than 70 million people each year.

Conservation begins with awareness. The Whale Trail makes it easy for people to know where and when to watch whales from shore. Our website supports intentional travel to coastal communities, and provides a new platform for eco-tourism. Our signs reach a broad and diverse general public. When the whales are near, our shore-based naturalists pass out binoculars and educate viewers about the animals they are seeing. The Whale Trail also produces innovative programs such as Orca Talks and Orca Tours, and educational tools such as shore-based whale-watching kits.

Our overarching goal is to recover the southern resident orcas (J, K and L pods) from the threat of extinction. The Whale Trail is specifically mentioned in NOAA's Killer Whale Recovery Plan. By promoting shore-based whale-watching, we are helping to reduce the impacts of noise and disturbance on J, K and L pods.

These beloved and iconic pods will go extinct in fewer than 100 years unless we address the human caused threats that have brought these whales to the edge of extinction: lack of salmon, toxin accumulations, and stress and noise from boats. Turning down the volume in the Salish Sea is something we can do right now, with immediate benefit to the whales. It doesn't matter how many salmon are in the sea, if the orcas can't hear to find them.

Your support will help us add more sites and signs throughout the Salish Sea, and to continue and expand the programs that are making a difference for the whales. It's all hands on deck for the orcas - help us meet this challenge with the urgency it demands.

The Whale Trail is steered by a core team of partners including NOAA Fisheries, Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary, WDFW, Seattle Aquarium, and the Whale Museum. Our lead partner in BC is the BC Cetacean Sighting Network. The project was founded and is led by Donna Sandstrom, whose background includes 14 years at Adobe Systems.

The Whale Trail has its roots in a rare conservation success--the return of the orphaned orca Springer. To get the whale home, we had to learn how to work together. Above all, we put the whale's best interest first. The Whale Trail was founded in that spirt, and by many of the same team members.

Together we are creating a powerful piece of common ground, connecting communities not just to the whales, but to each other. We have a rare and time-bound opportunity to connect the west coast for the whales and to protect the southern resident orcas. We need your help to make it happen. Join us!