The Importance of Whale
Heritage Sites

The Whale Heritage Site (WHS) program is an initiative created by the World Cetacean Alliance, and currently run in partnership with World Animal Protection, to formally recognise and accredit destinations around the world that support and demonstrate the importance of cetaceans and their ocean habitats.


Respectful Human-Cetacean Coexistence

Whale Heritage Sites are a network of areas designated with well-developed and robust criteria where cetaceans and people exist in harmony.

There are five designated Whale Heritage Sites today:

  • Harvey Bay, Australia
  • The Bluff, South Africa
  • Tenerife-La Gomera Marine Area, Spain
  • Dana Point, California
  • Algoa Bay, South Africa

As of November 2021, the Santa Barbara Channel Whale Heritage Site has become one of the eight candidate sites:

  • Cabo Pulmo, Mexico
  • Vancouver Island, North Canada
  • Golfo Dulce, Costa Rica
  • Marlborough Sounds, New Zealand
  • The Azores, Portugal
  • Cabo Polonio, Uruguay
  • Ombai-Wetar Straight, Timor-Leste
  • Santa Barbara Channel, California

For the travel industry, Whale Heritage Sites provide a clear marker to help identify and support sustainable practices and create a platform for communities to engage with marine culture, heritage, and biodiversity. For tourists, Whale Heritage Sites provide a transparent and easy way to select responsible whale and dolphin watching holiday destinations, encouraging them to experience these incredible animals in their natural habitat, in an authentic and responsible way.

Our hope for the future here in the SB Channel is to be part of the growing network of more Whale Heritage Sites where whales are celebrated for their ecological role in enhancing ocean productivity; where whales have an economic value through responsible tourism; where conservation and research is a priority in reducing the impacts on their longevity and where we can continue to learn and appreciate the rich complex lives of whales and dolphins.