New Whale Spotted in San Francisco Bay

Officials won't say where the whale was last seen

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    Officials are trying to keep people from searching for the whale.

    Another gray whale has been spotted in San Francisco Bay, and boaters are again being asked to steer clear.
        The whale, reported Saturday, is one of several to be spotted this month, including a mother and calf pair that swam into the Bay last week.

        Officials from the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary are not releasing the location where the latest whale was sighted, in an effort to keep the curious away, said spokeswoman Mary Jane Schramm.     The appearance is entirely normal, however, and not a cause for concern so long as the whales are not frightened deeper into the Bay where  they might have trouble getting out, Schramm said. The whales frequently stop off in the Bay on their migrations between breeding grounds in the south and  feeding grounds in the north.
         "It's business as usual as long as they're not harassed," Schramm  said.
        Boaters are instructed not to get within 300 feet of a whale, cut across a whale's path, make sudden speed or directional changes around a  whale, or get between a whale cow and her calf. Separating a calf from its  mother would doom it to starvation, officials said.
        Schramm said that the pair reported last week was last seen swimming outside the Golden Gate again.
        Collisions between boats and whales can have disastrous impacts for both the whale and the vessel, and could result in legal consequences,  according to the marine sanctuary, a division of the National Oceanic and  Atmospheric Administration.
        Schramm said that many boaters aren't aware of the regulations  regarding approaching whales, and that boaters may inadvertently cause the  whales harm.
        More whale activity in and around San Francisco Bay is expected as gray whales travel near the shore of San Francisco and Tomales Bay, migrating from their breeding grounds near Mexico around 6,000 miles to feeding grounds  near Alaska.
        "It's like they spend half the year in the bedroom and the other half of the year in the kitchen and pantry," Schramm said.
        Gray whales in particular swim close to the shore, and cow-calf pairs sometimes pause in surf zones for the calf to nurse or rest, or when avoiding killer whales.
        While not much of a whale is usually visible on the surface,  whales can be spotted by their blow, which looks like a puff of smoke about 10 to 15 feet high. Whales will blow several times before diving for three to  six minutes, marine sanctuary officials said.
        All whales are protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act and some species, such as humpback and blue whales, are also protected by the  Endangered Species Act.
        Despite the legal restrictions, Schramm said there are plenty of ways for people to observe whales around San Francisco, as long as whale watchers are with a captain that knows how to navigate near whales, and a  naturalist that can explain whale behavior.
        Bay City News

    Raw Video: Searching for Whales in the SF Bay

    [BAY] Raw Video: Searching for Whales in the SF Bay
    Boaters are being warned to avoid two whales who have taken a two day stroll along the San Francisco shoreline. (Published Thursday, Mar 8, 2012)