2012-03-09 "Mother gray whale and calf spotted in S.F. Bay" by Will Kane from ""
A mother gray whale and her calf have made a pit stop in San Francisco Bay as they migrate north.
The two whales probably came into the bay sometime Tuesday and were swimming near Alcatraz Island on Thursday, said Mary Jane Schramm, spokeswoman for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which monitors the whales.
"At this time of year, it isn't uncommon to see gray whales in the bay," Schramm said. "They could be here for just a peek, or they could come in and stay for a few days."
The mother whale probably birthed her calf near Baja California and is migrating north as the weather warms, Schramm said.
The pair could have stopped in the bay to take a break from their 6,000-mile swim, or they could be fighting an injury or illness, she said.
Some scientists speculate the whales use bays and inlets as navigational aids as they travel north.
"What we want people to understand is that they need to give the whales, especially the calf, space," Schramm said.
The U.S. Coast Guard is issuing regular broadcasts of the whales' location so boaters can steer clear, said Petty Officer Caleb Critchfield.
Boaters must stay 300 feet from the mother and calf and are not allowed to cut across the path of a whale, Critchfield said. If the calf is separated from its mother, it can die of starvation.
Researchers from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will monitor the whales until they swim out of the Golden Gate, Schramm said.
Cbs5: A mother gray whale and its calf are seen in San Francisco Bay from a CBS5 helicopter on Wednesday, March 7, 2012.