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    Glacier Bay

    National Park & Preserve Alaska

Alert to Vessel Operators Regarding Harbor Seals on Floating Ice

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Date: June 19, 2009
Contact: Allison Banks, Public Information Officer, 907-697-2230
Contact: Cherry Payne
Contact: Craig Smith

Glacier Bay National Park Superintendent, Cherry Payne, has asked all mariners to exercise caution to avoid harbor seals hauled out on floating glacier ice in Glacier Bay and elsewhere. Harbor seals often utilize floating ice in glacial fjords, but are especially vulnerable during the summer pupping and molting seasons.

Recently, seals with pups have been reported on floating ice just outside of Johns Hopkins Inlet and in Tarr Inlet in areas frequented by cruise ships and other vessels. When disturbed, the seal pups can be separated from their mother, with potentially fatal consequences. Disturbances by passing vessels can also stress molting seals and impact their health. Mariners are urged to maintain at least one quarter mile distance from seals hauled out on ice. Mariners should also reduce speed and maintain a greater distance if the seals appear agitated by the vessel’s approach. To protect harbor seals, Johns Hopkins Inlet is closed to all vessel traffic from May 1 until June 30, and closed to cruise ships until August 31each year.  

Superintendent Payne recommends that mariners keep a sharp lookout for seals in these and other areas, and take early action to minimize any disturbance. As a reminder, park regulations and the Marine Mammal Protection Act prohibit the harassment of harbor seals and other marine mammals.

For detailed vessel use regulations and other boating information, please follow the link below:

http://www.nps.gov/glba/planyourvisit/boat.htm

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