Whale watching season is here a little early in 2023, as the Marine Mammal Center spotted this whale tail February 9, and SF Bay Ferry riders say they’ve seen a few more since.
The San Francisco Bay usually sees its whale watching season begin in mid- to late March, when sometimes hundreds the giant mammals pass through these parts during their annual trek back up to Alaskan waters. Some early arrivers are known to swim through a little before then, and in 2023, the early arrivers are arriving quite early, as SFGate reports the first gray whale spotted in the SF Bay in 2023 was February 8, and then the video below was taken on February 9.
“The first #GrayWhale of 2023 in SF Bay has been spotted,” Sausalito’s Marine Mammal Center tweets. “Our team saw the whale in seemingly good body condition on 2/8 🙌 Our research volunteer, Darrin, took this spectacular video on 2/9.”
The tweet above is from a whale watching tour company in SoCal (where the whales show up earlier than here on their northward migrations), but there have been additional gray whale spotting since then right here in the SF Bay. “[The Marine] Mammal Center has received multiple reports of another whale swimming around the Bay Bridge near the Oakland Estuary,” according to SFGate. “Many of the reports came from people commuting on the San Francisco Bay Ferry, and [Marine Mammal Center field researcher Bill] Keener said one of the observations came in as recently as Monday.”
And the Marine Mammal Center asks that if you see a whale, please do report it by calling their 24-hour hotline at 415-289-SEAL (7325). They can then pass this information along to the Coast Guard, who can get cargo ships to slow down to prevent fatal collisions with whales.
“When you have large whales coming into a dense shipping area, the risk of collision is real,” Keener tells SFGate. “It’s great to see these magnificent animals in the bay, but it’s cause for concern.”
Related: Whales Are Making Pitstops In the Bay Again In Their Migration North [SFist]
Screenshot via Marine Mammal Center