SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- Boaters have been asked to keep their distance away from an influx of whales expected to migrate through Bay Area waters for the next few months, according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration officials.
While boaters are advised to always be cautious of whales, more are expected during the spring and summer months when they travel north from breeding grounds in Mexico to the Arctic waters near Alaska, NOAA officials said.
Many whales may turn up at busy shipping lanes in San Francisco at the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary west of the Golden Gate Bridge, according to NOAA officials.
Gray whales are more likely to collide with boats because they tend to travel by the shore and may possibly enter the Bay, NOAA officials said.
Female whales, also known as cows, and their calves tend to swim in pairs and can be visible from land, according to NOAA officials.
Gray whales also occasionally stop in the surf zone to nurse, rest or steer clear of killer whales, NOAA officials said.
Boaters should watch out for a gray whale's blow, which can be visible above water appearing as a puff of smoke about 10 to 15 feet high, according to the NOAA.
Whales may come toward the surface and blow for about three to six minutes prior to a prolonged dive, NOAA officials said.
Boaters are urged to stay at least 100 yards, about the length of a football field, away from a whale.
NOAA officials are also asking boaters to never cut a whale's path, make an abrupt change in the speed or direction of their craft, or split up a mother whale from her calf.
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