Vessel Speed Restrictions Implemented Near Willoughby Island In Glacier Bay To Protect Whales
Contact: Gus Martinez, Acting Chief Ranger, 907-697-2230
Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve Superintendent Cherry Payne announced today that a vessel speed limit of 13 knots through the water is being implemented in the vicinity of Willoughby Island in Glacier Bay to protect numerous humpback whales that have been sighted in the area. During the past week as many as nine humpback whales, including a cow/calf pair, have been observed in the area. This speed restriction will apply to all vessels from 5 AM Wednesday July 9 until further notice. Since June 6, in the Lower Bay whale waters, all vessels have been restricted to a speed of less than 13 knots through the water, and vessels greater than 18 feet in length have been restricted to a mid-channel course or 1 nautical mile offshore.
As shown on the attached map, the new whale waters area includes all waters north of the Lower Bay whale waters and bounded by the northeast tip of Willoughby Island, the northwest tip of Flapjack Island, the south tip of Willoughby Island and the northern entrance to Berg Bay. The Lower Bay whale waters include the waters extending from the mouth of Glacier Bay to a line drawn between the northern tip of Strawberry Island and the northern tip of Lars Island. This boundary is shown on NOAA nautical chart 17318 of Glacier Bay.
Boaters are reminded that 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 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.
Did You Know?
In 1899, an earthquake measuring 8.4 on the Richter Scale so shook the glaciers in Glacier Bay, the budding tourism industry nearly died. There was so much ice in the water from the shattered glaciers, visitors to Glacier Bay did not return to for over ten years.