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Sharing the Seas

Sharing the Seas: Safe Boating for Sailors and Whales
Atlantic Cup inshore race
Atlantic Cup inshore race

About the Program 

Biologists from WDC, Audubon Society of Rhode Island, and the New Bedford Whaling Museum, with input from US Sailing and Sailors for the Sea, 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 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 empowers sailors to utilize safe boating techniques to reduce disturbances and injury to whales and their crews.

Components of the program, which is a branch of the See A Spout, Watch Out! program, include easy-to-remember tips for safe operation around whales, contact information for authorities in the event a whale or turtle is seen entangled or otherwise in distress, and easy tips to help keep the oceans clean by keeping debris out of the ocean. Sailors can download their own field guide reference sheet (preview below) to take on the water.

Graphic showing four common species of whales found in the North Atlantic

So far through this program, we have:

  • Worked with three 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
  • Hosted the first annual New England Whale Festival
  • Participated in two Massachusetts boater safety events in early summer, 2018
  • Participated in the New England 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

Remember to SAIL

The “Sharing the Seas” program provides electronic and print resources which use the acronym SAIL to remind sailors of four important steps:

afe boating practices

lert authorities to important sightings

I mportant information

imit litter

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.