Alaska Sea Grant publishes guide to responsible marine wildlife viewing

29 March 2006

Contact: Terry Johnson, agent, Alaska Sea Grant Marine Advisory Program, Homer, 907-235-5643,, profile

NR: SG-2006/NR232

Anchorage, Alaska—A recreational boater spots a pod of killer whales breaching in a remote Prince William Sound bay, and motors over for a closer look. Soon, other nearby vessels arrive and begin jostling for position. Before anyone realizes, the boats have edged to within yards of the federally protected whales. Frightened or maybe just annoyed, the whales dive and disappear.

Just in time for the annual summertime pilgrimage of Alaskans and visitors to the coast, Alaska Sea Grant is offering tips on the dos and don'ts of approaching and watching marine wildlife.

Responsible Marine Wildlife Viewing in Alaska is the title of the second issue of Alaska Seas and Coasts, a full-color publication of the Alaska Sea Grant Marine Advisory Program (MAP).

Wildlife tour captain and Homer MAP agent Terry Johnson explains the federal laws covering marine wildlife viewing, and offers useful tips on how to safely and responsibly approach and watch coastal wildlife, including whales, porpoises and other cetaceans.

Caroline Jezierski of the Alaska SeaLife Center offers useful information on how to enjoy viewing the many seals and Steller sea lions that frequent Alaska's coastline. Angela Doroff, wildlife biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, discusses ways to safely view and protect sea otters.

Kate Wynne, MAP marine mammal specialist, appeals to the thousands of boaters and fishermen who will be out on the water this summer to be on the lookout for Steller sea lions sporting easily identifiable numbers branded on their sides. Wynne asks viewers to help support ongoing science efforts by reporting these sea lion sightings.

Marilyn Sigman of the Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies offers helpful tips for enjoying a fun-filled day of tide pooling. Leslie Slater, a wildlife biologist at the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge, explains ways to watch and protect seabirds.

The publication also offers vessel operators a voluntary Code of Conduct pledge that can be posted aboard their vessels to let passengers and crew know that they follow accepted guidelines to responsible marine wildlife viewing.

Free copies of Alaska Seas & Coasts can be downloaded from the Alaska Sea Grant online bookstore, or picked up at Alaska Sea Grant in Fairbanks or regional MAP offices statewide.

Single paper copies are available by mail for $3.00 postage and handling by calling 1-888-789-0090, or mail your request with a check payable to Alaska Sea Grant, PO Box 755040, Fairbanks, AK 99775-5040. Free subscriptions to Alaska Seas and Coasts are available by contacting Alaska Sea Grant publications.

The Alaska Sea Grant Marine Advisory Program (MAP) is a statewide outreach and technical assistance program that helps Alaskans wisely use, conserve, and enjoy Alaska's marine and coastal resources. It is part of the University of Alaska Fairbanks School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences. MAP is based in Anchorage, and operates from nine Alaska coastal communities.