Boaters off the Marin coast are being urged to exercise extreme caution when navigating coastal waters. A research team spotted more than 100 blue whales jumping in less than an hour and set off serious alarms amongst the coastal communities nearby. It isn’t necessarily a problem that they’re jumping, or that they’re heavily active in the region right now. Their behavior is normal, according to reports. There is simply a higher density of whales than is ordinarily seen there, and that heavy whale traffic could mean disastrous things for boaters. Especially those on small boats, which would be easily susceptible to being overtaken by a large whale.
Maria Brown of Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary noted that the threat wasn’t really to humans as much it was to the whales. They are definitely used to being somewhat near boats, and encountering them at sea. However, this is something that is a little more fragile because they’re in such a place that is going to provide more boats than they would traditionally be used to. She said, “We are alerting small boaters and large vessel operators to be on the alert for endangered whales, and to maintain minimum distances.”
On the 4th of July a survey was conducted, which wasn’t out of the ordinary for the region, and in just one hour – 115 endangered whales were spotted and seen jumping in the region. Due to this increased risk of boats being overtaken, boaters should exercise caution and stay at least 300 feet away when possible.
Roger Thomas, an 80-year-old veteran of the region – and someone who still skippers a boat in the region pointed out that this was something he had never seen before. Seeing the sheer volume of whales that have been seen in the region is something he classified as “unbelievable.”
According to the experts, though the real reason the humpbacks have been hanging out around the area is because of an increased food supply. Nan Sincero, of the Oceanic Society, said of the whales that, “The humpbacks at the entrance to the bay have been hanging out for weeks. They are in heaven with all the food out there.”
What’s happening in the bay right now is definitely something that is unique, but it’s not something that is unheard of. It will be interesting to see how long this warning lasts, and how quickly the humpback whales disappear and move on. Experts don’t expect that this will happen very quickly, so this is something that could be a few weeks, or a month before lifting.