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Increased whale deaths linked to ship traffic

whale on rio del mar beach

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KPIX, KION) In the past month, five whales have been found dead in or outside the San Francisco Bay. Most of them appear to have died after colliding with ships. Now, scientists and government officials looking for ways to make the Bay safer for the giants of the deep.

The latest victim was a huge Fin Whale washed up near Fort Funston. Of the five dead whales discovered, three appear to have been hit by ships.

The whale specialist for the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito says the animals have only recently been coming into the Bay itself.

Scientists believe they are spending more time near or inside the Bay because of a shift in thermal currents that send their food supply closer to the shoreline. Now, they sometimes stay for weeks and feed inside the Bay.

It puts the whales in a crowded environment. Increased shipments with labor shortages during the pandemic, caus a backlog of ships at the Port of Oakland, according to John Berge of the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association.

There are a lot of ships in the Bay and more waiting outside to get in.  When whales decide to stop for a visit, things can turn deadly.

The Monterey Marine Sanctuary is requesting ships wait farther out to sea so they won’t endanger wildlife.

Last week, the federal government designated the waters off California as essential habitat for the endangered Humpback Whale. This won’t change anything immediately, but it could lead to protective policies in the future.

Article Topic Follows: California News

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Carina Nocon


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