Gray whale spotted in San Francisco Bay

April 24, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
There was whale watching in San Francisco Bay on Thursday. SKY7-HD spotted a gray whale swimming near Crissy Field. It brings back memories of the two whales in the bay last year, Delta and Dawn.

There are some distinctions though. Delta and Dawn were humpback whales and the one that has been spotted now we're told is a gray whale. These whales are coastal creatures and can migrate as from as far north as Alaska, all the way to Mexico. Although we may not notice them all the time, they do visit quite frequently.

If you looked long enough and hard enough at the right spot at the right time, then like Linda Paulsen of San Francisco, you might have seen what experts describe as a gray whale just inside the Golden Gate Thursday morning.

The whale first appeared off Fort Point on Wednesday, but it only went public Thursday. It's a juvenile measuring about 50 feet long.

Kelly Montano of the National Park Service was one of the first to see the whale Wednesday and kept mum about it, with good reason. This happens quite often with grays.

"Well, you probably see three or four. Most of the whale people know when they come in, but they try to keep it low profile so they don't get hassled by a lot of boats," says Stan Minisian, a naturalist with the Oceanic Society.

Minisian notes that gray whales have battled back from the brink of extinction two times in 250 years. They are coastal creatures. Only recently has their status changed from endangered to threatened.

That's why when a young gray journeyed up the Petaluma River in 1994, so many people worked so hard to save it. Eventually, this whale died near San Jose, a victim of its own migratory behavior.

"It's usually just like an exploratory thing. They're circumnavigating the coastline and some of them would just come into the bay and spend a couple of days or a week and leave," says Minisian.

But in the meantime, it's a pretty good show -- not just the whale, but the people watching the whale. It's a sign of the season, and for Linda Paulsen, a strange farewell. She moves away from San Francisco on Friday.

NOTE: There are archival video reports of whale stories we've covered in the past in the media player above on this page.


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