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Contact: Albert Faria, Chief Ranger, 907-697-2230
Contact: Chris Gabriele, Whale Biologist, 907-697-2664
Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve Superintendent Philip Hooge announced today that the 13-knot vessel speed limit in lower Glacier Bay will be raised to 20 knots through the water due to a decrease in the number of humpback whales in the area. This change goes into effect beginning at 5AM Tuesday September 15. In this area, vessels greater than 18 feet in length are still restricted to a mid-channel course or one nautical mile offshore. As shown on the attached map, the designated 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 charts of Glacier Bay.
Boaters should proceed cautiously in all areas where whales may be present because whales may surface in unexpected locations, posing a hazard to both the vessel and the whale. 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, as authorized by Title 36 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Subpart N, 13.1174.
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.