Cantwell, Coast Guard Unveil New “Whale Desk” in Seattle to Help Ships Steer Clear of Puget Sound Orcas and Other Whales

February 21, 2024

Cantwell wrote law that established new program to provide near real-time alerts to ship captains when they approach whales

Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Chair of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, joined a launch celebration for the Coast Guard’s new “Whale Desk” traffic alert system at Coast Guard Base Seattle.

"I was proud to author legislation to establish a program that ... allows the Coast Guard, if you will, to act almost like air traffic controllers – trying to have large vessel traffic get out of the ways of our orca population," said Sen. Cantwell. "The whale desk will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week and will serve as a vital tool for protecting whale populations in Puget Sound."

"Today, we have vessel operators, scientists, and Coast Guard coming together," Sen. Cantwell added. "These professionals manage the entire maritime transportation system ... now they will be ready to share and disseminate information that will help our whale population including our beloved orcas. [With] this approach we can keep our economy moving and we can keep whales moving too.”