State environmental officials are cautioning boaters about how they act should they encounter whales on Long Island Sound out of concern they could endanger the water mammals in light of multiple recent humpback and beluga whale sightings along the Connecticut shoreline.
Whales are protected under the Federal Marine Mammal Protection Act, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reminds boaters and whale watchers to abide by those laws.
When a boat is within 2 miles of a whale, there should be a person designated to be on the lookout and communicate with other ships by radio when approaching a whale and departing from it, NOAA said.
Within a half mile of a whale, boaters must reduce their speed 7 knots or less and avoid approaching a whale head-on within that zone, NOAA said. Boats can't travel faster than 7 knots or less when 600 feet away, NOAA said. Only one boat is allowed to approach a whale within 300 feet, but it can only stay there for 15 minutes maximum, according to NOAA.
The Federal Marine Mammal Protection Act "helps minimize chances of harassing or injuring whales and violating Federal law" and protects all large whales from Maine through Virginia with the exception of North Atlantic right whales.
NOAA asks boaters to report right whale sightings or any observations of a marine mammal in trouble to 866-755-6622.
Seen a whale on Long Island sound lately? Send your photos or videos to firstname.lastname@example.org.