Whale Waters Update for Glacier Bay Effective June 20, 2012
Contact: Albert Faria, Chief Ranger, 907-697-2230
Contact: Chris Gabriele, Whale Biologist, 907-697-2664
Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve Superintendent Susan Boudreau announced today that the 13 knot vessel speed limit in the middle of Glacier Bay that was implemented on May 25 to protect numerous whales in the area will be removed. Recently, these whales have begun to concentrate in a nearby area where a 13 knot speed limit will now be implemented. The attached map shows the updated location of all whale waters areas in Glacier Bay National Park waters as of 5 AM on Wednesday June 20.
As shown on the attached map, the new whale waters area includes all waters north of the Lower 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.
Whale waters are still in effect in the Lower Bay and the mouth of the Bay. Since June 12, a vessel speed limit of 13 knots through the water has been in effect in lower Glacier Bay and in Park waters at the mouth of Glacier Bay to protect numerous humpback whales that have been sighted in this area. In addition, since May 15 in lower Glacier Bay whale waters, vessels greater than 18 feet in length have been restricted to a mid-channel course or 1 nautical mile offshore.
Boaters are reminded that vessels are prohibited from operating within ¼ nautical mile 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 should proceed cautiously in all areas where whales are 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.
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.
Did You Know?
Researchers believe that black bears, searching for new and abundant food sources, returned to Glacier Bay via the Endicott Gap. Today, the presence of black bears in the reborn forests of the lower bay is evidence of a successful search.