SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Lured into the San Francisco Bay by schools of anchovies, a massive humpback whale survived a near miss with a freighter headed into the Port of Oakland.
The encounter was captured on photos taken by people on a San Francisco Whale Tours boat on Friday. Such incidents often do not have a good outcome.
Earlier this year, three whales were fatally struck by large freighters both inside and outside of the Bay.
A fin whale was discovered in May floating near Jack London Square after being fatally struck by a ship. On the same day, a gray whale carcass washed ashore in Marin County.
The fin whale was a 45-foot female juvenile that suffered massive hemorrhaging on both sides after the collision, Marine Mammal Center officials said. It was also the same whale reported to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on May 16, after it was seen draped across the bow of a large ship entering the Bay.
Meanwhile, the 36-foot adult female gray whale was discovered at Tennessee Valley Beach in Marin County, suffering from lesions around the back of her neck and both front flippers. She also had two lacerations on the right side and multiple skull fractures consistent with a ship propeller, according to center officials.
The two cases were unrelated, but ship strikes are the leading cause of whale mortality, followed by fishing gear entanglement, center officials said.
In June, a blue whale was discovered on a beach at Point Reyes National Seashore with fatal blunt force injuries consistent with being hit by a ship. The finding was made after scientists performed a necropsy, an animal autopsy, on the aquatic mammal a few miles south of Limantour Beach.
“Blue whales are the largest animal on earth and an endangered species, so to learn that this individual’s death is a result of a ship strike is particularly unfortunate,” said Barbie Halaska, a researcher at the center, at the time.
The necropsy revealed that the whale had suffered back, rib and jaw injuries.
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