A gray whale mother and her calf have been spotted in San Francisco Bay this week and officials are warning boaters to give them plenty of space.

The whales were first spotted on Wednesday afternoon and then again on Thursday morning about a quarter-mile off Alcatraz Island. Officials with the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary said that the appearance is not unusual as this is the time of year when gray whales normally migrate from their breeding grounds near Mexico to feeding grounds near Alaska.

Boaters are being cautioned to keep their distance as law requires that they not get within 300 feet of a whale, cut across a whale’s path, make sudden speed or directional changes or get between a whale cow and her calf. Separating a calf from its mother would lead to it starving.

The Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary said that if people are interested in observing whales in and around the San Francisco Bay, the best way is through whale watching tours, which includes a captain who knows how to navigate near the animal and a naturalist who can explain their behavior.



Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons