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Contact: Allison Banks, Public Information Officer, 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 at the mouth of Glacier Bay to protect numerous humpback whales that have been sighted in the area. During the past week at least 14 humpback whales, including at least two mother/calf pairs, have been observed feeding in this area. These operating restrictions are effective from 4 AM Saturday July 3 until further notice. Speed and course restrictions are intended to reduce the disruption of feeding humpback whales and lower the risk of whale/vessel collisions. The attached map shows the updated location of all whale waters areas in Glacier Bay National Park waters as of 4 AM on Saturday July 3.
The new whale waters area is bounded on the north by an imaginary line between Point Carolus and Point Gustavus, and on the south by the Park boundary in Icy Strait. The eastern boundary is an imaginary line running due south from Point Gustavus to the Park boundary, and the western boundary is an imaginary line running due south to the Park boundary following longitude 136 degrees 05' West. All motor vessels passing through this area are restricted to a speed limit of 13 knots through the water.
Even in areas where no specific vessel speed limit has been designated, NOAA regulations implemented throughout Alaska in 2001 require that "vessels operate at a slow, safe speed when near a humpback whale". In addition, while in all Glacier Bay National Park waters, vessels are prohibited from operating within ¼ nautical mile of a humpback whale. However, whales often surface in unexpected locations. In Park waters, the operator of a vessel inadvertently positioned within ¼ nautical mile of a humpback whale must immediately slow the vessel to 10 knots or less, without shifting into reverse unless impact is likely. The operator must direct or maintain the vessel on as steady a course as possible away from the whale until at least ¼ nautical mile of separation is established.
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.