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Vessel Operating Restrictions Implemented In Lower Glacier Bay

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avatar Dead Humpback Whale Found in Upper Glacier Bay
May 11, 2010 05:16PM

The humpback whale found stranded recently in upper Glacier Bay is believed to have been dead for weeks.

Date: May 11, 2010
Contact: Allison Banks, Public Information Officer, 907-697-2230

A dead humpback whale was sighted on a beach at Scidmore Cut in the upper West Arm of Glacier Bay on Wednesday May 5th. Marine mammal observer Nat Drumheller, onboard the Park’s first cruise ship of the year, M/V Amsterdam, spotted the whale from a few miles away. His photographs, taken through a spotting scope, confirmed that it was a dead baleen whale. After notifying the National Marine Fisheries Service, Park biologists examined the carcass on Thursday May 6th and determined that it was an adult-sized humpback whale, approximately 41 ft in length, and that it was too decomposed to allow for individual identification via markings on its tail flukes. It is believed to have been dead for several weeks. Tissue samples were obtained for genetic analysis and age determination, but a full necropsy is not planned due to the condition of the carcass.

When the whale bones are exposed in the coming months, they will be examined for signs of a vessel collision, but it will likely be impossible to determine the cause of death of this whale.
avatar Vessel Operating Restrictions Implemented In Lower Glacier Bay
May 11, 2010 05:19PM

Date: May 11, 2010
Contact: Allison Banks, Public Information Officer, 907-697-2230

Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve Superintendent Cherry Payne announced today that a vessel speed limit of 13 knots through the water for all vessels is being implemented in lower Glacier Bay whale waters to protect numerous humpback whales that have been sighted in this area. In addition, vessels greater than 18 feet in length passing through this area are restricted to a mid-channel course or 1 nautical mile offshore. During the past two weeks at least 14 different humpback whales, including two mother/calf pairs, have been observed in lower Glacier Bay. These operating restrictions are effective from 5 AM Tuesday May 11 until further notice.

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 are reminded that 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. 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 the whale. Although humpback whales tend to be distributed along the shoreline, boaters should note that whales frequently cross mid-channel as they move between feeding sites.

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.
avatar 2011 Proposed Glacier Bay Cruise Ship Quotas
May 15, 2010 07:21PM
2011 Proposed Cruise Ship Quotas
Date: May 14, 2010
Contact: Allison Banks, Public Information Officer, 907-697-2230

In accordance with 36 CFR 13.1160(b), Superintendent Cherry Payne has proposed that the 2011 cruise ship day use quota for Glacier Bay remain unchanged from the 2010 season. Currently, the quota for the June, July, and August summer season is set at 153 use days and the quota for the May and September shoulder season is set at 92 use days.

In 2003, the National Park Service completed the Vessel Quota and Operating Restrictions Environmental Impact Statement (VQOR EIS). Subsequent regulations delegated the authority to set annual cruise ship quotas to the park superintendent. Additionally, the VQOR EIS Record of Decision states that the determination of whether to increase seasonal day use quotas for cruise ships will rely on criteria that define the environmental and social conditions to be met before any additional seasonal use days are approved.

In 2005, an independent Science Advisory Board was appointed by Glacier Bay that recommended various studies to assess potential impacts from vessels-including cruise ships-on physical and biological resources. The Board also recommended studies to assess potential impacts to the Huna Tlingit relationship to park resources, and impacts of cruise ships on visitor experience.

In December, 2009, the NPS convened a meeting that brought together the Science Advisory Board members, principal investigators, and NPS scientists and managers to review the results of the first suite of studies. Based on the presentations from researchers, the Board evaluated the potential impacts of cruise ships and compared these to those impact topics originally analyzed in the VQOR EIS. Their assessment indicates that the original impact analyses from the VQOR EIS remain accurate. However, the NPS will continue to pursue independently recommended research and monitoring in order to assess the effects of vessel traffic on the environment, as well as their effects on cultural relationships to and visitor experience in Glacier Bay. Areas that warrant additional research include wildlife disturbance, soundscape, and visitor experience.

The NPS is soliciting public comment on the proposed day use quota. Comments will be accepted until close of business on May 28, 2010. You may submit comments by regular mail, fax, or by using the NPS Planning, Environment, and Public Comment website at:


By email to: glba_public_comments@nps.gov

Or by regular mail at the following address:

Cherry Payne, Superintendent

Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve

PO Box 140

Gustavus, AK 99826
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