Lauri Duke, who takes photos to help Golden Gate Cetacean Research identify whales and dolphins, was on the Golden Gate Bridge recording video Saturday when she noticed a humpback whale and a sailboat on a collision course.
Duke had heard reports that several whales were near the south tower of the bridge, so she and her husband went to check them out.
“The incident with the sailboat happened almost as soon as my husband and I got up to the tower,” Duke told SFGate. “I noticed a sailboat coming directly at [the whale], and I could not believe it was not turning away.”
Instead, the humpback whale took evasive action:
The humpback whale rolled out of the way of the oncoming sailboat just in time.
“I’m very glad that it wasn’t a second or two later,” Duke told SFGate, adding that the whale shouldn’t have been hard to see by those on the sailboat since it spouted twice before the encounter. Duke noticed them taking photos of the whale.
After the encounter, the humpback whale disappeared from sight as the sailboat continued on.
With the influx of humpback whales in San Francisco Bay, there have been incidents between whales and humans.
On June 28, a photo was taken near the Golden Gate Bridge that appears to show a boat colliding with a humpback whale. In July, a kiteboarder filmed himself accidentally hitting a humpback whale.
“It’s a wildlife spectacle so it’s always attractive to people,” Bill Keener, a marine biologist with Golden Gate Cetacean Research, told SFGate. “My advice is if you see whales concentrated in an area, give them a wide berth. If they’re feeding and they come up from the depths to lunge up, you don’t know where they’re going to come back up.”
Whale-watching guidelines provided by NOAA Fisheries say to always attempt to stay 100 yards away from a whale and if you can’t avoid a whale, do not move into the path of the whale, and operate the boat with a no-wake speed.
“People getting close to marine animals is not good for the animals and it’s against federal law,” NOAA spokesperson Jim Milbury told SFGate. “But more importantly, or as importantly, people can get hurt.”
Read more about whale encounters on GrindTV