Gray whale mothers and calves are passing Southern California on their way to Arctic home waters, and many of the cow-calf pairs are hugging the shoreline.
It’s tempting, understandably, for swimmers and surfers to try to get close to them. But they should know that altering the whales’ behavior in any way–merely causing one to veer from its course, for example–violates the Marine Mammal Protection Act.
Earlier this week, passengers aboard the Dana Pride out of Dana Wharf Whale Watching were enjoying multiple whale sightings off Laguna Beach when three people swam out from shore.
Mansur’s text message to the office: “Amazing whales today. Seven so far. Three calves [and] four adults playing in Laguna… It was great until three people swam out and spooked them.”
Dana Wharf on Thursday posted the photo, by co-captain Frank Brennan, on its Facebook page. The caption reads: “Don’t swim too close to me!” - We know the whales are way cool, but please don’t swim up to them. For your safety and theirs.”
Mothers and calves are the last to leave Baja California nursing grounds and the last to make it back to the Bering and Chukchi seas.
Among the threats they face are transient killer whales, which prey on calves.
Transient killer whales do most of their whale-hunting off Monterey and points north. But a large pod was spotted off the Palos Verdes Peninsula on Tuesday and Wednesday.