Pete Suratos

Shipping Companies Praised for Slowing Down for Whales

More than 20 shipping companies on Thursday were recognized for slowing down their ships around whales in the San Francisco Bay.

The companies have been participating in a National Marine Sanctuaries program that calls on cargo ships to reduce speeds to 10 knots or less to avoid hitting the massive marine mammals feeding in the bay.

"There's been some work done on the East Coast that suggests that at 10 knots the whales have a better shot of survival even if they get hit," Dan Howard with Cordell Bank National Sanctuary said. "Today is our opportunity to thank those companies that heard our requests and complied."

The program focuses on specific whales, such as humpbacks and blue whales, that feed in the bay during the summer months.

About 45 percent of vessels that travel through the Bay Area participate in the program. The goal is to increase the number of vessels every year.

Over the past couple months, several gray whales migrating through the Bay Area have washed up on shorelines across the region. Ship strikes or malnutrition were listed as the causes of death in most cases.

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