PUBLISHED: 12:11 PM on Wednesday, July 27, 2005
Vessel Restrictions Implemented to Protect Whales
Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve Superintendent Tomie Lee announced Friday a special 13-knot speed limit for vessels traveling in and near the Park boundary at Point Carolus to protect numerous humpback whales that have been sighted in the area. All vessels passing through this area are restricted to a maximum speed of no more than 13 knots through the water. These temporary restrictions will apply from 6 AM on Saturday July 23, until further notice.

During the past week, as many as 11 humpback whales have been observed consistently in the Point Carolus area in Park waters just south of the 'whale waters' boundary. As shown on the attached map, the newly restricted area is bounded on the north by the whale waters boundary at Point Carolus; on the east by longitude 136 o 00'; on the west by longitude 136 o 05'; on the south by Park waters north of 58 o 20' latitude. All motor vessels passing through this area are restricted to a speed limit of 13 knots through the water.

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. Boaters should proceed cautiously in all areas where whales are present because whales may surface in unexpected locations, posing a hazard to both the vessel and whales. Although these whales tend to be distributed along the shoreline, boaters should note that whales frequently cross mid-channel as they move between feeding sites and the whale. Boaters are also reminded that vessels are always prohibited from pursuing and approaching within one-quarter mile of humpback whales in Park waters. If accidentally positioned within one-quarter mile of a whale, vessel operators must slow immediately to 10 knots or less and steer the vessel on a steady course away from the whale (perpendicular to the whale's course) until their vessel is at least one-quarter mile from the whale. 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.