Marine Wildlife Viewing in Alaska
Alaska is blessed with an abundance of attractive and accessible marine wildlife, including marine mammals, seabirds, shorebirds and raptors, fish and intertidal beach invertebrates. Marine wildlife viewing is a key component of the state's growing tourism industry, supporting dozens of tour and sightseeing charter boats and providing an important value-added component to hundreds of sportfishing charter and kayaking businesses. Wildlife is an important part of marine recreation for residents as well and contributes to the quality of life Alaskans enjoy.
Marine wildlife viewing is good for the economy, and good for our souls. But is it good for the wildlife?
The Marine Advisory Program is conducting a marine wildlife viewing project that has two important objectives: (1) to encourage Alaskans and visitors to enjoy our marine wildlife by providing practical information on where to find wildlife, how to get to it, and how get the most enjoyment from the experience; (2) to help people understand the importance of responsible viewing practices and to offer guidelines for behaviors that minimize the impact on the animals.
The project includes wildlife viewing publications, training sessions for commercial boat operators and naturalists, and informational talks for the general wildlife-viewing public. Presentations are made around the state at wildlife-related events, and on request.
The project is developing a statewide voluntary code of conduct for marine wildlife tour operators, and a similar code for recreational boaters and beach walkers. The code of conduct program is being developed in cooperation with the National Marine Fisheries Service, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the Alaska Department of Fish & Game's Watchable Wildlife program, several nonprofit marine conservation and education organizations, and numerous commercial operators and recreational users.
For more information
- Terry Johnson, MAP agent
Responsible wildlife viewing information from MAP
- Tips for Photographers, Birders, and Wildlife Viewers on Guided Trips (by Terry Johnson)
- Responsible Marine Wildlife Viewing (Alaska Seas & Coasts, Vol. 2, March 2006)
- Vessel Code of Conduct (coming soon)
- Alaska Marine Wildlife Viewing Handbook (coming soon)