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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 Susan L. Boudreau announced today that a vessel speed limit of 13 knots through the water is being implemented in Whidbey Passage in Glacier Bay to protect numerous humpback whales in the area. In addition, vessels greater than 18 feet in length passing through Whidbey Passage are restricted to a mid-channel course or one nautical mile offshore. At least 25 humpback whales have been sighted in the area over the past few days, including two mother/calf pairs. These restrictions will apply to all vessels from 5AM Friday August 9 until further notice. Whale waters at the mouth of Glacier Bay and in lower Glacier Bay remain unchanged.
As shown on the attached map, the new Whidbey Passage whale waters are defined by the following boundaries:
- Northern boundary: a line drawn from the northern tip of Drake Island to the northernmost point of the Marble Mountain peninsula at the southern entrance of Geikie Inlet.
- Eastern boundary: a line drawn from the southern tip of Drake Island to the northern tip of Francis Island, from the southern tip of Francis Island to the northern tip of Willoughby Island, and from the southern tip of Willoughby Island due south to the current Lower Bay whale waters.
- Southern boundary: a line drawn from the northern tip of Lars Island to a point due south of the southern tip of Willoughby Island, making it contiguous with the current Lower Bay whale waters.
- The inner waters of Fingers Bay and Berg Bay are not included.
Also shown on the attached map are existing whale waters areas that begin at the Park boundary in Icy Strait, extend through the Lower Bay to an imaginary line between Lars Island and Strawberry Island, and continue east to the Beardslee Islands motorless waters boundary. Vessels greater than 18 feet in length are restricted to a mid-channel course or one nautical mile offshore in the Lower Bay and Whidbey Passage whale waters. In all designated whale waters, there is a vessel speed limit of 13 knots through the water.
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.
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