Marine Sanctuary Issues Warning to Boaters Regarding Whales

Small boaters and large vessel operators traveling near San Francisco Bay should be extra cautious when traveling near endangered whales, officials with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary announced today.

Because of the number of endangered whales documented recently near the Farallon Islands, officials with the Farallones sanctuary are asking boats and ships passing through the area to maintain minimum distances from them to prevent harassment or even life-threatening collisions.

During a one-hour survey near the Farallon Islands on July 4, sanctuary officials counted 115 endangered whales.

Officials with the sanctuary are working with the nearby Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary and the U.S. Coast Guard in order to get their message across. They’re requesting that large ships slow to at least 10 knots in the vessel traffic lanes approaching San Francisco.

The slower speed could reduce the threat of ships striking endangered blue and humpback whales, according to Farallones sanctuary officials.

Reports of small vessels approaching whales at ranges closer than the 300-feet federal minimum distance guideline in places such as Pacifica, Pillar Point and the Golden Gate Strait have risen lately, according to sanctuary officials.

All whales are legally protected against harassment under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, according to sanctuary officials.

Furthermore, whales within a national marine sanctuary, such as the Farallones and Cordell Bank sanctuaries, are additionally protected under the National Marine Sanctuaries Act, sanctuary officials said.

Daniel Montes, Bay City News

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