There’s a new speed limit being enforced on the Alaska waves, but with good reason – a large population of whales that need protecting.
Without wanting to sound all hippy, I think this is a smart move. Even just knocking a few knots off the limit will make a big difference and should hopefully see a large reduction in the number of collisions, or even just in the intimidation of whales. It’s not just about not smashing into them, we need to make sure we aren’t interfering either.
The new rule, announced by the National Park Service, is in place in locations where there are known to be large numbers of whales, such as the Glacier Bay National Park. The rule means that ships must slow down to 10 knots rather than the old limit of 13 knots, and the existing rule of remaining at least a quarter of a mile from any spotted whale also remains in place.
A statement from the NPS reads “The best available scientific information indicates that reducing speed is the best way to reduce the risk of whale-vessel collisions. A slower speed gives the whale more time to react and move out of the way of the vessel.
“The operator of a vessel inadvertently positioned within ¼ mile of a humpback whale must immediately slow 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.”
It won’t make much of a difference to passengers, there won’t be any need to alter itineraries, so it’s definitely a sensible idea. Much better to be careful when you’re dealing with species like the humpback whale, rather than risking a few extra knots just to get going quicker. It’s good to see people taking measures to protect the native wildlife.
By Ian Lewis