More Whales in Glacier Bay Lead to Ship Speed Adjustments

July 16, 2013 | By | 1 Comment

alaska wildlife humpback
An “extremely high” number of whales in Alaska’s Glacier Bay has prompted the National Park Service to issue speed restrictions on cruise ships traversing the famed fjords.
As many as 60 whales have been spotted in lower Glacier Bay recently, drawn to schools of small, high-calorie fish such as capelin, sandlance and herring, says Christine Gabriele, wildlife biologist with Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve. “This summer, there seems to be a lot of capelin around, and that is what the whales appear to mostly be feeding on right now” she says. Of course, she notes, it’s hard to tell, as whales eat their meals underwater, out of sight from tourists and scientists alike.
To avoid harming the whales, cruise ships larger than 2,000 tons carrying more than 12 passengers have been asked to slow down to 10 knots because the vessels have a limited ability to maneuver, the NPS says in its release.  While other watercraft can continue to travel at 13 knots through the park’s waters, NPS reminds captains that they must slow down to 10 knots if they come within one-quarter mile of a whale. 


So how long will lucky Glacier Bay cruisers enjoy this bonanza of breachings? There’s no real way to predict, Gabriele says. “Things can change fast, or last a while,” she says. But she estimates that 60 whales eat an estimated 800 pounds of fish daily — so “presumably the feed won’t last forever.”
Read more about Alaska wildlife.
Alaska on your bucket list? Read our Alaska Cruise Basics feature.
Get your very own Lido Deck subscription.



    One Response to “More Whales in Glacier Bay Lead to Ship Speed Adjustments”

    1. Patti
      July 17th, 2013 @ 1:04 am

      This is probably a really stupid question…..but are there are actually 2,000 ton ships in Glacier Bay that only carry 11 (or fewer) passengers? How on earth did they come up with a passenger count of 12?

    Leave a Reply

  • Subscribe to the Lido Deck by E-Mail

  • About the Lido Deck

    Welcome to the Lido Deck, where Cruise Critic readers and editors gather to share ideas, news, photos, videos and opinions on everything from ship etiquette and past voyages to happy hours and excursions. Please note: When commenting, Cruise Critic's community guidelines apply.

    Click here to meet the crew.

  • Recent Posts

  • What’s Your Cruise IQ?

  • RSS Cruise Critic News

  • Categories