Whales & Ships

aerial view of blue whales
Blue whales make an annual migration to the Santa Barbara Channel in the summer to actively feed on huge swarms of krill. Photo: Sean Hastings

Every year thousands of large ocean-going vessels transit through the Santa Barbara Channel and Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. The internationally designated ship traffic lanes cross over historically rich whale feeding areas and migration routes. Ship strikes of blue, fin, and humpback whales threaten the recovery of these endangered species.

aerial view of a container ship in open water

Ship Strikes

Vessel speed reduction of large ships reduces the risk of fatal ship strikes on endangered whales in the Santa Barbara Channel. Photo: Adam Ernster/Condor Express

People on a raft work to disentangle a whale


Whales that become entangled in marine debris may experience starvation, physical trauma, systemic infections, drowning or increased susceptibility to other threats, such as ship strikes.