Whale Waters Update
Contact: Albert Faria, Chief Ranger, 907-697-2230
Contact: Chris Gabriele, Whale Biologist, 907-697-2664
Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve Acting Superintendent David Nemeth announced today that the 13-knot vessel speed limit in lower Glacier Bay and at the mouth of Glacier Bay will be lifted due to a decrease in the number of humpback whales in the area. In addition, the mid-channel course requirement for vessels traveling in lower Glacier Bay will be lifted.These changes go into effect beginning at midnight on September 30, 2011.
Even in areas where no specific vessel speed limit has been designated, NOAA regulations implemented throughout Alaska in 2001require 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.