• Sunset view of Glacier Bay and the surrounding Fairweather Mountains.

    Glacier Bay

    National Park & Preserve Alaska

Whale Waters Update for Glacier Bay Effective July 2, 2013

Map Showing Whale Waters Update For Glacier Bay Effective July 2, 2013

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News Release Date: July 1, 2013
Contact: Gus Martinez, Acting Chief Ranger , 907-697-2230
Contact: Chris Gabriele, Whale Biologist, 907-697-2664

Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve Superintendent Susan L. Boudreau announced today two changes in whale waters in Glacier Bay. First, a vessel speed limit of 13 knots through the water will be implemented in an area north of the current lower Glacier Bay whale waters between Willoughby Island, Boulder Island, and Berg Bay to protect numerous humpback whales that have been feeding in this area. This speed restriction will apply to all vessels from 5 AM Tuesday July 2 until further notice. Second, the vessel speed limit that has been in place around North and South Marble Islands since June 7 will be lifted at 5 AM July 2

As shown on the attached map, the new whale waters area includes all waters north of the lower Glacier Bay whale waters and bounded by an imaginary line drawn from the northern tip of Netland Island to the southern tip of Willoughby Island, east to the northern tip of Boulder Island, and then due east to the Beardslee Islands motorless waters boundary. The inner waters of Berg Bay are not included. There is no vessel course restriction in this area.

Whale waters at the mouth of Glacier Bay and in lower Glacier Bay remain unchanged, as shown on the attached map. In lower Glacier Bay, a 13 knot vessel speed limit was implemented June 18. In lower Glacier Bay whale waters, vessels greater than 18 feet in length are restricted to a mid-channel course or one nautical mile offshore. Since May 8, a 13 knot vessel speed limit has been in place in Park waters at the mouth of Glacier Bay. There is no vessel course restriction in this area

In summary, beginning on July 2nd, whale waters areas will require vessels entering Glacier Bay to limit their speed to 13 knots or less upon crossing the Park boundary in Icy Strait, and until they are north of Boulder Island, Netland Island and the south tip of Willoughby Island.

Boaters should proceed cautiously in all areas where whales may be present because whales may surface in unexpected locations, posing a hazard to both the vessel and the whale. Although humpback whales tend to be distributed along the shoreline, boaters should note that whales frequently cross mid-channel as they move between feeding sites. Vessels are prohibited from operating within ¼ nautical mile of a humpback whale in Park waters, including those Park waters outside Glacier Bay proper. In addition, vessel operators positioned within ½ nautical mile of a humpback whale are prohibited from altering their course or speed in a manner that results in decreasing the distance between the whale and the vessel. Speed and course restrictions in whale waters are intended to reduce the disruption of feeding humpback whales and to lower the risk of whale/vessel collisions.

Boaters are advised to verify whale waters designations prior to entering Glacier Bay by telephoning (907) 697-2627 or by contacting KWM20 Bartlett Cove on marine VHF radio. Whale waters restrictions are authorized in Glacier Bay National Park in accordance with Title 36 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Subpart N, 13.1174.

For a printer-friendly PDF version of this news release, please click here.

Did You Know?

Mt Fairweather

Captain James Cook named the tallest mountain in Glacier Bay, Mount Fairweather, in 1778. As Southeast Alaska is a temperate rainforest, with an average of only 50 sunny days a year, it would require fair-weather to see that mountain.