Collisions at sea can be just as dangerous for boaters as they are for whales. Sharing the Seas was developed as a way to empower sailors to utilize safe boating techniques to reduce disturbances and injury to whales and their crew. Whether recreational or professional, sailors can review a few key tips before hitting the water and familiarize themselves with local whale species and habitat.
The goal is to ensure safe passage for sailors and marine life by providing captains and crew with information on:
- the types and behaviors of marine mammals and sea turtles they may encounter
- best practices when sailing through whale habitat, and
- important contact information to report sightings of entangled or injured marine life.
This knowledge of the acronym SAIL empowers sailors to utilize safe boating techniques to reduce disturbances and injury to whales and their crews. Learn more by downloading our field reference sheet.
The program was put together by the education committee of the North Atlantic Right Whale Consortium which includes biologists from WDC, Audubon Society of Rhode Island, and the New Bedford Whaling Museum, with input from US Sailing and Sailors for the Sea. Together we have developed outreach materials for sailors through a program called “Sharing the Seas”. The goal is to ensure safe passage for sailors and marine life by providing captains and crew with necessary information important in protecting species in the area.
Components of the program, which is a branch of the See a Spout, Watch Out! Program, also include easy-to-remember tips for safe operation around whales and ways to help keep the ocean clean by keeping debris out of the ocean. Sailors can download their own field guide reference sheet to take on the water.
So far through this program, we have
- Worked with professional sailing race organizers to provide teams with customized information about whales (and their important habitats) along race courses
- Hosted workshops at yacht clubs in Massachusetts and Rhode Island
- Exhibited at the 2018 Volvo Race Village in Newport, Rhode Island
- Participated in various Massachusetts boater safety events
- Participated in the Connecticut Spring Boat Show
- Presented program information at various science and conservation conferences, as well as US Sailing's National Sailing Programs Symposium
- Distributed field guides to active sailors
What Can You Do?
Knowing who to contact, and when, is a great first step in contributing to conservation efforts. Sailors can help to save protected species through safe boating and sightings reports. They act as stewards at sea, often traveling through areas that are not regularly surveyed by whale researchers.
If you are interested in hosting a workshop at your yacht club or local boating center, or if you would like to incorporate customized whale information for your sailing event, please contact us. For more information, visit the Sharing the Seas website.
Take our quiz to test your safe boating knowledge!