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Contact: Wendy Bredow, Acting Chief Ranger, 907-697-2230
Contact: Chris Gabriele, Whale Biologist, 907-697-2664
Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve Acting Superintendent Joni Seay announced today that a vessel speed limit of 13 knots through the water will be implemented at Point Carolus in park waters at the mouth of Glacier Bay to protect numerous humpback whales that have been sighted in this area. During the past week at least 10 different humpback whales have been observed in this area. This speed restriction will apply to all vessels from 5AM Saturday July 14 until further notice. 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 one nautical mile offshore.
As shown on the attached map, the newly designated whale waters are defined as follows:
Point Carolus - 13 knot speed restriction only: This area is defined by the following boundaries:
• Northern boundary: A line drawn from Point Gustavus to Point Carolus
• Eastern boundary: longitude -136°0’
• Western boundary: Longitude -136°5’
• Southern boundary: Glacier Bay National Park’s marine boundary
Current whale waters also include:
Lower Glacier Bay - 20 knot speed and course restriction: Annually from May 15 – September 30, a 20 knot speed and mid-channel course restriction are in effect in the Lower Bay. This area includes all waters between the mouth of Glacier Bay and a line drawn between the northern tip of Strawberry Island and the northern tip of Lars Island. This boundary is shown on NOAA nautical charts of Glacier Bay. Mariners 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.
Note that there are also smaller concentrations of whales elsewhere in Glacier Bay. It is important for vessel operators to keep a sharp lookout and reduce speed when necessary. Vessels are prohibited from operating within ¼ nautical mile of a humpback whale in Park waters and are required to reduce speed if they find themselves within ¼ nautical mile of a whale. Speed and course restrictions in whale waters are intended to reduce whale disturbance and lower the risk of whale/vessel collisions, as authorized by Title 36 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Subpart N, 13.1174.