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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 lower Glacier Bay whale waters to protect numerous humpback whales that have been sighted in the area. During the past week as many as 11 humpback whales, including a cow/calf pair, have been observed in lower Glacier Bay. This speed restriction will apply to all vessels from 5 AM Friday June 6 until further notice. Since May 15, vessels greater than 18 feet in length passing through this area have also been restricted to a mid-channel course or 1 nautical mile offshore.
As shown on the attached map, lower Glacier 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.
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.