The Whale Trail

The Goal

The Whale Trail was founded in 2008 to build awareness of the endangered southern resident orcas throughout their range. From 16 inaugural sites in Washington there are now more than 100, spanning the west coast from California to British Columbia.

We recently learned of the Whale Trail, a not for profit organization that identifies viewing locations for sighting whales, in particular, the orca.

We spoke with Donna Sandstrom, one of its founders. She grew up in California, where her love for the sea and all its creatures took early hold. Go to the site and read the story about Springer, and you'll understand.

The trail identifies locations from British Columbia, along the Washington and Oregon coasts and down along the California coastline.  To be identified as a whale site, it must offer a reasonable chance of viewing whales and other marine life.

Whale Trail sites also include educational facilities that have a strong focus on marine education and conservation, or sites with cultural or historical significance in our story with the whales.

From 16 inaugural sites, there are now more than 130, across four states
and two countries. Whale Trail sites are in city, county, state and national parks and tribal lands. Each site has a page on the Whale Trail website (, and many feature interpretive panels.

Donna founded The Whale Trail in 2008 with a team of partners including NOAA Fisheries, the Seattle Aquarium, WDFW and the Whale Museum. In 2015, the Whale Trail expanded to BC under the leadership of the BC Cetacean Sighting Network. The Whale Trail works closely with  partners, site hosts, and community members to identify and add locations.

Thieves Bay on Pender Island was one of the first sites on The Whale Trail BC. Recent signs have been added at BC Ferry terminals and BC Parks. Visitors are encouraged to watch for marine mammals, and report their sightings to the BC Cetacean Sightings Network. Watching whales from shore is not only a fun (and inspiring) thing to do; shore-based sightings provide critical data for marine mammal research and management.

What a great organization with a dedicated and determined team!

We've recently been introduced to Donna and have shared ideas with her about extending the Whale Trail to include the coast of Baja California. As many of you know, the gray whales in particular head down to Magdalena Bay and the San Ignacio Lagoon every year between January and March to give birth.

Imagine having viewing locations along the entire western coastline of North America!

Check out their site to learn more....

As their signs encourage, "Follow The Whale Trail to watch whales from shore. What will you discover?"



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