The Whale Trail 


The Whale Trail is a series of sites around the northwest to view orcas and other marine mammals from shore.

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. 

Our signs and programs reach a broad and diverse public. By connecting human impacts to orca survival, we motivate people to become engaged.

Mission Statement
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 through Puget Sound and the coastal waters of the Pacific Northwest.
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The Whale Trail
7119 Woodside Pl SW 
(206) 919-5397 

Donna Sandstrom 



The Whale Trail Programs

Building Awareness –Site and Signs
Whale Trail signs are customized for each site to show which marine mammals may be seen there, and when. You may have seen our signs on a Washington State ferry, or at places like Alki Beach or Salt Creek Recreation Area. Through our current signs alone The Whale Trail is reaching over 30 million people each year. 

Awareness to Action – Whale Trail Programs
We create and deliver innovative programs that make it easy for people to play a role in orca recovery.  With the help of dozens of volunteers, we’ve trained Orca Stewards in West Seattle, piloted Whale Trail shuttles on San Juan Island, and played Orca Bingo with hundreds of middle-schoolers aboard the ferries. We’ve created shore-based whale-watching kits, featuring binoculars donated by R.E.I., and hosted community events like Celebrate Springer and Welcome the Orcas.

Connecting Communities - Collaboration in Action
The Whale Trail is connecting us not just to the whales, but to each other. Together, we are creating a powerful piece of common ground  - a new way to work together for the whales, and a new focus for eco-tourism.

The Whale Trail is led by a collaborative team including NOAA Fisheries, Washington Department of Fish and Wildife, Seattle Aquarium, the Whale Museum, and OCNMS. We work closely with site partners, community members, scientists and NGOs to establish our sites, design signs, and deliver programs.

Recent Successes and Current Challenges

Last October, the southern resident orcas made their first return of the season to central Puget Sound. Hundreds of people gathered along the shore to watch the whales go by.

Just south of the Alki Lighthouse, people read newly installed Whale Trail signs, while whales passed by in front of them. Volunteers passed out binoculars, and made it possible for many people to see the orcas. When they learned the whales are endangered, the next thing most people asked was, “What can I do to help?”

What started as a simple idea is now a dream coming true. The Whale Trail is reaching, teaching and connecting people to orcas and their environment all around the Northwest. 

But the tide hasn’t turned for the southern resident orcas yet, and their fate is in our hands. If current population trends continue or worsen, J K and L pods could disappear in as few as 100 years.

Your support will help us extend the Whale Trail around the northwest, and deliver the programs that are already making a difference. With your help we will:

  • Add a Whale Trail site in every coastal county and around Vancouver Island, throughout the orcas' range
  • Train Orca Stewards around the state
  • Provide Whale Trail sites with shore-based whale-watching kits 
  • Launch a web-based stewardship campaign
  • Host community lectures, fairs, and other events..
Support The Whale Trail today, and help us ensure that the orcas survive, and thrive, for generations to come.


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