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Boaters warned as more than 100 whales are spotted in California


Dozens of whales have been frolicking off Marin’s coast, prompting federal officials to issue a boating warning. In the last weekend, authorities documented about 115 humpback, blue and fin whales during a survey near the Farallon Islands.whales-near-farallon-islands

Federal officials want the large ships to slow down to 10 knots in boat traffic lanes approaching San Francisco, to prevent the vessels from striking the whales. Recreational boaters and fisherman have been urged to remain at least 300 feet away, a federal minimum distance guideline. Blue, fin and humpback whales are listed under the Endangered Species Act, and the whales are protected against harassment under the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

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“We are alerting small boaters and large vessel operators to be on the alert for endangered whales,” said Maria Brown, superintendent of the Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary.

Roger Thomas, the 80-year old dean of the Bay Area salmon fleet who serves as the skipper of Sausalito’s Salty lady said that there were more whales near the shore than ever before. Whales are all over the place, he added. The whales are drawn to the huge school of anchovies and waves of krill, and the whales are rarely seen close to the shore. During a Salty Lady trip to Farallones, society-day trippers have spotted several blue whales, and about 25 to 30 humpbacks.

Thomas mentioned that these whales surge close to the boat as it drifts along, and they come right up to you. He added that the huge feed as made a good season for salmon fishing. Nan Sincero of the Oceanic Society said that the humpbacks at the entrance of the bay have been hanging out for weeks, and they are in heaven with all the food out there. Experts believe that these whales could stay in the same area for a few weeks or a month, before moving on.

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