Glacier Bay National Park has announced that its Superintendent, Susan L. Boudreau, has extended the closure of Johns Hopkins Inlet to all vessel traffic through July 15, 2013 to protect unweaned harbor seal pups.
A recent harbor seal survey found that pupping continued through mid-June, resulting in pups that could be dependent on their mothers through the middle of July.
Mariners are asked to exercise caution to avoid harbor seals hauled out on floating glacial ice. Harbor seals are especially vulnerable to disturbance during the summer pupping and molting seasons. When disturbed, harbor seal pups can be separated from their mother, with potentially severe consequences.
Mariners are urged to maintain at least one quarter mile distance from seals hauled out on ice. Mariners should also reduce speed and maintain a greater distance if the seals change their behavior or appear agitated.
Superintendent Boudreau recommends that mariners keep a sharp lookout for seals hauled out on floating glacial ice, and take early action to minimize any disturbance.
As a reminder, park regulations and the Marine Mammal Protection Act prohibit the harassment of harbor seals and other marine mammals.