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BARTLETT COVE, ALASKA –Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve Superintendent Philip Hooge announced today that a 13-knot vessel speed restriction will be implemented in a portion of the West Arm due to a high concentration of humpback whales. Numerous humpback whales have been observed widely distributed in this area, including the middle of the channel where vessels often travel. Many of the whales are diving for 8-10 minutes at a time, making it difficult for fast-moving vessels to spot them.
This change goes into effect beginning at 5AM Saturday, May 28. As shown on the attached map, the newly designated whale waters are defined as follows:
West Arm - 13 knot speed restriction only: This area is defined by the following boundaries:
·Northern boundary: A line from the eastern point of Scidmore Cut to the southern tip of Composite Island.
·Eastern Boundary:A line from the southern tip of Composite Island to the southern point defining the mouth of Tidal Inlet, including the shoreline of Gloomy Knob.
·Southern boundary: A line from the southern point of the mouth of Tidal Inlet to the southern tip of the un-named island that defines the mouth of Hugh Miller Inlet.
·Western boundary: The shoreline of the Gilbert Peninsula from the southern tip of the unnamed island defining the mouth of Hugh Miller Inlet to the eastern point of Scidmore Cut.The waters of Blue Mouse Cove are not included.
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 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.
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.
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.
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