Feds investigate video of cruise ship in near-miss with humpback whales

The Eurodam, a Holland America Line ship, sits in port on Monday, June 24, 2019. Video posted to Facebook on Monday appears to show the ship passing close to a pod of humpback whales. (Photo courtesy Anjuli Sastry)

Federal regulators are investigating video footage that appears to show a Holland America Line cruise ship narrowly missing a pod of humpback whales while on its way to Juneau Monday.

In both videos, posted to Facebook by Brent Kidd Palmer, the cruise ship Eurodam can be seen passing in close proximity to the whales.

Palmer could not be reached for comment.

The videos appear to have been shot from a nearby vessel. In it, a voice says they contacted the Eurodam twice to warn them about the approaching whales.

“There he goes steaming right over the top of where they just surfaced. Hasn’t even bothered to slow down yet,” the voice says. 

Under federal law, vessels must maintain a distance of at least 100 yards from humpback whales in Alaska.

Julie Speegle of NOAA Fisheries confirmed the agency’s enforcement office is investigating the incident after receiving reports Monday morning.

“They have received the video and are reviewing it, and they have made contact with the cruise company,” Speegle said.

In a statement, Holland America Line said crew observed the pod bubble feeding ahead of the ship around 6:40 a.m. near Kingsmill Point. 

“Following proper protocols, the captain altered course by 10 degrees to create more distance between the ship and whales, allowing them to safely pass,” the statement reads.

Holland America Line is a subsidiary of Carnival Corporation. As part of a federal settlement, Carnival recently agreed to pay an additional $20 million in fines for felony probation violations that include illegal dumping in Alaska and elsewhere. Last fall, Holland America Line’s Westerdam dumped 26,000 gallons of greywater in Glacier Bay National Park and failed to properly notify regulators, according to court documents.

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