Admiralty inlet slowdown

Admiralty inlet 2023 Voluntary vessel slowdown

A collaborative effort to reduce underwater noise for endangered whales

Admiralty Inlet and Puget Sound are critical habitat for the endangered Southern Resident killer whales (SRKW). During the fall and winter, these killer whales swim, rest and forage for salmon in these waters. Underwater noise is identified by Canada and the United States as one of the main threats to killer whales due to its interference with their ability to hunt, navigate, and communicate.

The Quiet Sound program was created with the goal of reducing the acoustic impacts of large commercial vessels on these endangered whales in Washington. To do this, a coalition of federal, state, tribal, port, maritime industry, scientist, and NGO representatives developed this trial voluntary slowdown in Admiralty Inlet and north Puget Sound. During the trial slowdown, large commercial vessels are encouraged to slow down when safe and operationally feasible to do so. By slowing down, large vessels reduce their underwater noise output. Quieter waters give orcas better opportunities to hunt and communicate with their pod.

Not in Effect

The voluntary vessel slowdown began when the whales entered the slowdown area on 12 Oct 2023 and ended at 2359 PST on 12 Jan 2024. Results from the 2023-2024 slowdown are forthcoming.

See the press release here.

For a full-size map of the slowdown, click here

Slowdown Parameters 2023-24

Dates: October 12, 2023-January 12, 2024

The voluntary vessel slowdown 
began once SRKW were observed in the
slowdown area on or after Oct 1, 2023.
This slowdown has a fixed end date and

may span a maximum of 3.5 months.

Location: Admiralty Inlet and north Puget Sound

The voluntary vessel slowdown trial takes place in the inbound and outbound lanes of the shipping lanes within these boundaries:

Northwest boundary of the slowdown: a line drawn between Pt Hudson (48.117264, -122.748907) and Admiralty Head (48.154217, -122.679503)

Northeast boundary of the slowdown: a line drawn between Randall Pt (47.983237, -122.352871) and the Mukilteo Lighthouse (47.948181, -122.308043)

Southern boundary of the slowdown: a line drawn between Apple Cove Pt (47.815535, -122.480885) and Edwards Pt (47.803340, -122.394924)

The slowdown area excludes Hood Canal.

For a full-size map of the slowdown area click here.

When it is safe and operationally feasible, ships are encouraged to transit the slowdown area at or below the following speeds through water:

  • 14.5 knotsspeed through water or less for vehicle carriers, cruise ships, and container vessels
  • 11.o knots speed through water or less for bulkers and tankers
Turn off Ultrasonic Anti-Fouling Systems:

In the slowdown area, please turn off ultrasonic anti-fouling systems on vessels to further reduce noise pollution in the frequencies that killer whales use to hunt and communicate.

Benefits to Participants:
Fleets with high rates of participation are eligible for documentation to meet a criterion in the Underwater Noise performance indicator for their Green Marine certification

How can the public help this initiative?

Members of the public can help commercial mariners avoid whales by reporting whale sightings through:

For more information:

  • Download the slowdown fact sheet for more details
  • Sign up for the Quiet Sound slowdown newsletter here
  • Questions? Contact us at Pilots with questions about the slowdown can text or call Quiet Sound at ‪(360) 218-2307‬ from 8 am to 5 pm Monday through Friday.
  • Learn more about concurrent slowdowns for whale protection in Canadian waters on the ECHO site


Quiet Sound recognizes the essential contributions of the Leadership Committee and working groups who provided input on the seasonal slowdowns. We also thank the ECHO program for their continued mentorship and partnership in operationalizing these programs. 

Puget Sound Pilots are playing a pivotal role in the on-water success of this effort. The Marine Exchange of Puget Sound is providing AIS data, and the Marine Exchange and Pacific Merchant Shipping Association have been key partners in communicating the slowdown to the maritime industry.

We thank all the tribal governments who considered our proposal to put forward this program for vessels traveling through their usual and accustomed fishing areas.

Quiet Sound gratefully acknowledges all the partners who are working to provide Washington mariners with real-time whale locations, including: Ocean Wise, Orca Network, Acartia,, and all the members of the public who report sightings.

Funding for this work was provided by the Washington State Legislature, US Environmental Protection Agency, and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

Quiet Sound

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