Officials fear whales in San Francisco Bay can be injured during 4th of July weekend

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Whales have been hanging out near the Golden Gate Bridge, coming dangerously close to boats.

RELATED: Experts concerned about whale safety in San Francisco Bay

The holiday weekend is here, and with it comes a warning for all boaters on the bay. Be safe, be vigilant, and steer clear of humpback whales.

"Fourth of July, lots of people on the water," said Tim Harwood, who is in holiday mode. he plans to celebrate the weekend on his buddy's sailboat.

It's stocked with supplies and safety gear, but it's on the bay. It's every boater for themselves.

VIDEO: Whale breaches surface of San Francisco Bay

"You got to stay vigilant out there -- 4th of July weekend, lots of people who don't know what they're doing," Harwood told ABC7 News.

Humpback whales are still hanging out in the bay and entertaining crowds who can't get enough. But San Francisco police marine patrols are warning the public to stay back after a boater collided with a whale this week near the Golden Gate Bridge. That boater has not been located.

It's been a busy month for San Francisco Whale Tours, where safety comes before sightseeing.

"When a whale comes close we shut down the engine," said Josh Patyten of the tour company.

The crew plays by the rules, staying 100 yards away from whale pods.

"We are trying to be whale guardians," Patyten added. "We love and respect them and want to protect these animals."

It's a federal crime to deliberately harass a marine animal. Be safe navigating out there.

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