Department of Parks adn Wildlife

Western Australia is one of the best places in the world to see whales as they migrate up and down the coast. Rules apply to whale watching, and it is important to follow these to ensure whales are protected and continue to visit our coastline.

Rules for whale watching

approach zone

The following special rules apply within the contact zone:

  1. A vessel must not cause a whale to alter its direction or speed of travel.
  2. A vessel must not disperse or separate a group of whales.
  3. A vessel, whether under power or drifting, must not approach a whale from a direction within an arc of 60 degrees of the whale’s direction of travel or an arc of 60 degrees of the whale’s opposite direction of travel.
  4. A vessel must not approach a whale within a distance of 100m (except licensed ‘RESEARCH’ vessels in particular circumstances).
  5. Where a whale approaches a vessel and the distance between the whale and the vessel becomes less than 100m, the vessel master must place its motor or motors in neutral or move the vessel at less than 5 knots away from the whale until the vessel is outside the contact zone.
  6. A vessel must not block the direction of travel of a whale, or any passage of escape available to a whale, from an area where escape is otherwise prevented by a barrier, shallow water, vessel or some other obstacle to the whale’s free passage.
  7. A vessel master must abandon any interactions with a whale at any sign of the whale becoming disturbed or alarmed.


If whales are diving for prolonged periods or swimming evasively, you are disturbing and upsetting them. Leave them alone. It is an offence to harass whales, and they may permanently abandon an area if frequently disturbed.

Further information