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Contact: Chuck Young, Chief Ranger, (907) 697-2230
Date: September 26, 2006
Whidbey Passage Vessel Speed and Course Restrictions Lifted
In Accordance with Title 36 Code of Federal Regulations 13.65 (b)(3)(ix)(A)
Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve Superintendent Tomie Lee announced today that the 13 knot vessel speed limit and mid-channel course restriction in Whidbey Passage will be lifted as of 5AM on Wednesday, September 27, 2006. These restrictions went into effect on August 16 to protect numerous humpback whales that were sighted in the area. Recently the number of humpback whales present in this area has declined significantly, resulting in the cancellation of these special vessel operating restrictions.
As of 5AM on Wednesday, September 27, 2006 there are no speed or course restrictions for vessels operating in Glacier Bay. Boaters should note that there are still several humpback whales frequenting Glacier Bay, however the number and distribution of whales do not warrant keeping whale waters restrictions in place. 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. If accidentally positioned within ¼-mile of a humpback whale, vessel operators must slow immediately to 10 knots or less and steer the vessel on a steady course away from the whale until their vessel is at least ¼-mile from the whale.
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.