wave.jpgLarge ships traveling in waters off the coast of Central and Northern California have been asked to voluntarily slow their speeds to reduce collisions with endangered whales, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration officials said.

Large ships in the Gulf of the Farallones and Cordell Bank national marine sanctuaries off the coast of San Francisco have been asked to help reduce the threat of ship strikes on endangered blue, humpback, and fin whales by reducing their speed to 10 knots.

The U.S. Coast Guard is broadcasting a message to all mariners in the region, urging them to keep a look out for whales and to consider reducing their speeds, especially when whales are visible.

NOAA officials are reminding mariners that collision with a whale can be disastrous for both the whale and the ship.

The whales return to the Bay Area in the summer and fall to feed. However, the whales often feed in established shipping lanes, where they are likely to be struck by large ships entering and departing from the Ports of San Francisco and Oakland, according to NOAA officials.

NOAA will be monitoring ship speeds in the marine sanctuaries to gauge the industry’s cooperation with the voluntary slow speed recommendation.

Hannah Albarazi, Bay City News

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