ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Several members of a family traveling outside of Auke Bay have been transported to the hospital with serious injuries after colliding with a whale, NOAA Fisheries said.
The family was in a recreational boat on the west side of Coghlan Island when they hit a humpback whale.
The U.S Coast Guard said the family returned to shore and went straight to Bartlett Regional Hospital in Juneau to have severe injuries assessed.
NOAA said there have been no reports of injured whales in that area following the collision but that people can call the NOAA Fisheries Stranding Hotline to report a dead, injured or otherwise impacted whale at 877-925-7773.
Humpback whales are fairly common in Southeast Alaska, especially during the summer, and NOAA said vessel strikes like this one occur annually in Alaska.
NOAA is recommending boaters “give whales bubble room” whenever possible. Federal regulations prohibit approaching whales within 100 yards, NOAA said, and continue to require boats to travel at reduced speeds around humpback whales.
To stay safe when viewing a whale, NOAA recommends limiting time around the whale to 30 minutes. In areas where whale viewing is common, travel slowly and watch for whales.
If a whale is spotted, NOAA advises boaters to reduce spray when approaching or departing from an area with whales and extend the space between the boat and the animal if the whales appear to be a mother and a calf.
NOAA says using a marine VHR radio can also be an effective way of communicating with other boaters to reduce crowding around whales.
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