Whale Watch Declared Inside the Golden Gate

Whales spotted Thursday near Alcatraz.

Boaters are being warned to be on the look out for a mother whale and her calf. 

The two apparently wandered off course a bit during their spring migration north.

The maritime community is being told to steer clear of the creatures. Farallones Marine Sanctuary spokeswoman Mary Jane Schramm reminds boaters who harass whales could face civil and criminal penalties. Boats are supposed to stay at least 300 feet away from whales and are never to cross in between a mother and her calf.

The pair of gray whales was first spotted inside the Golden Gate on Wednesday. An NBC Bay Area photographer saw the two near Crissy Field.

There were also sightings Thursday near Alcatraz. They were heading east, according to reports, which is the wrong way from their intended target (Alaska). Our helicopter caught a glimpse of the two Thursday afternoon on the north side of Alcatraz. They were not headed in any direction in particular that we could tell.

Gray whales migrate north each year from their calving grounds off the Baja coast to their feeding grounds up in Alaska and it is not unusual for one or two to pay us a visit along the way.

According to experts, gray whales tend to swim close to the shore, and cow-calf pairs sometimes pause in surf zones for the calf to nurse or rest. That makes the potential for lots of whale watching from the San Francisco shoreline. 

Dozens of people were out Thursday in hopes of catching a glimpse. Those numbers will likely increase each day the whales decide to stick around.

 Below is the latest video of the whale taken Thursday afternoon:


Copyright AP - Associated Press
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