Marine officials are warning ships, small boats and people on the water to stay well away from federally protected whales that have been spotted feeding close to the San Francisco shoreline.
Endangered humpback whales as well as minke whales have been spotted off of Ocean Beach over the last few days, drawn by fish close to the shore, according to Mary Jane Schramm, spokeswoman for the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, a division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Harassing any whale carries federal penalties, and humpback whales are additionally protected under the Endangered Species Act, Schramm said.
Boaters are urged to stay at least 300 feet away from whales in order to reduce the threat of dangerous boat strikes and harassment, which could result in thousands of dollars in federal fines and possible jail time, according to Schramm.
Residents can still enjoy the site of whales so close to shore, even while taking precautions, Schramm said.
“They’re putting on a great show,” Schramm said.
Drew Himmelstein, Bay City News