viewing guidelines viewing guidelines

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Marine Mammal Viewing Guidelines

Marine Mammal Viewing "Code of Conduct"
1. Remain at least 100 yards from marine mammals.
2. Time spent observing individuals should be limited to a 1/2 hour.
3. Whales should not be encircled or trapped between boats, or boats and shore.
4. If approached by a whale, put the engine in neutral and allow the whale to pass. Boat movement should be from the rear of a whale.

Pursuit of marine mammals is prohibited by federal law.

Water-Based Viewing:
* Remain at least 100 yards from whales, dolphins, porpoises, and from seals and sea lions that are on land, rock, or ice.
* Even if approached by a marine mammal offering food, discarded fish, fish waste, or any other food item is prohibited.
* Handling, touching or swimming with the animals may constitute harassment, which is prohibited.
* If you need to move around a whale, do it from behind the whale.
* Whales may surface in unpredictable locations.
* Whales, dolphins, and porpoises are more likely to be disturbed when more than one boat is near them.
* Limit your time with any individual or group of marine mammals to 1/2 hour.
* Vessels traveling in a predictable manner appear to be less disturbing to animals. The departure from a viewing area has as much potential to disturb animals as the approach. Avoid excessive speed or sudden changes in direction.

Land based viewing:
* Approaching seals or sea lions hauled out on land should be accomplished without the animal's awareness of your presence.
* Avoid detection by sight, smell, or sound.
* Pups are often left alone when the mother is feeding. They are not abandoned and should be left alone.

Aircraft-Based viewing:
* Bussing, hovering, landing taking off, and taxiing near marine mammals on land or in the water is likely to result in harassment.
* Maintain a 1500 foot minimum altitude when viewing marine mammals from the air.

Endangered Species found in Kodiak Waters: Humpback Whale, Fin Whale and the Steller Sea Lion - Western population.

The Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) prohibits the TAKE of all marine mammal species in U.S. waters. TAKE is defined as "to harass, hunt, capture, or kill, or attempt to kill any marine mammal." Harassment is defined in the MMPA as "any act of pursuit, torment, or annoyance which has the potential to injure a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild; or has the potential to disturb a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild by causing disruption of behavioral patterns, including, but not limited to, migration, breathing, nursing, breeding, feeding, or sheltering." TAKE is further defined by regulation to include feeding or attempting to feed a marine mammal in the wild. Some exceptions are made for authorized scientific research and subsistence hunting by Alaska Natives.

The Endangered Species Act (ESA) provides additional protection to species of marine mammals listed as endangered or threatened. The ESA prohibits the TAKE of species listed as endangered or threatened. The definition of TAKE is the same under the ESA as under the MMPA, except that the ESA adds the terms harm, pursue, shoot, wound and collect.

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