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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: May 26, 2010
Contact: Allison Banks, Public Information Officer, 907-697-2230

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, Jaw Point, and Tarr Inlet in areas frequented by cruise ships and other vessels. Wind can push floating ice fairly rapidly, so conditions may change from day to day or even hour to hour. 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 31 each 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

Did You Know?

Common Snipe

Instead of vocalizing to attract females, common snipe males have another method of drawing the attention of a potential mate. They spread their tail feathers diving downward. Air vibrates through the tail feathers creating an attractive, winnowing sound.