Question: >I was sailing two weeks ago in a 30 foot sail boat, west of Stellwagen >bank, when I saw a group >of whales (5 or 6) all in a line heading west. They were probably about >500 meters away. I was wondering if you have any information about how >to behave when watching whales (how to get closer, what the rules and >regulations are, etc.). Is there a web site, book, or person I could >consult about this? >Andreas Hofmann Reply: Hi Andreas, Yes there are requlations on how to approach whales in boats required by the coast guard with whale watch boats in mind. In general the rules are as follows: When in sight of whales (less than 1500 ft) avoid excessive speed or sudden changes in speed or direction. Close Approaches (less than 600 ft away): approach stationary whales at no more than idle or "no wake" spped and keep a parallel course and speed of moving whales. Do not attempt a head on approach to moving or resting whales. When less than 300 ft. away - do not crowd whales or box them in with other boats, be respectful and take turns following the above rules. The vessel should limit its time to 15 minutes. Do not approach a whale within 100 ft. and if they approach you put engine in neutral and do not engage props until whales are observed at the surface, clear of the vessel. Diving or swimming on whales is considered to an intentional approach and may be considered a violation of federal law. Feeding is against the law. Right whales fall under a different regulatory area: It is illegal to approach closer than 500 yds to any right whale (See 50CFR part 222.32 Chapter 20) of US Coast Guard Pilots inf. book. This should help you but I encourage you to contact the US Coast Pilots for more detailed information. Thank you for your concern in this matter. Take care, Kim Kim Marshall-Tilas (781) 259-0423 Whale Conservation Institute fax: 259-0288 191 Weston Road website: http://www.whale.org/ Lincoln, MA 01773 WCI is a member funded and focused organization. Membership has its privileges . . .