This humpback appeared in San Francisco nearly a month earlier than the previous record.
There were multiple reports of a humpback whale feeding in the San Francisco Bay last week, starting on March 9. The Marine Mammal Center confirmed the whale spotting on Twitter.
Last week our experts spotted the first #HumpbackWhale of the year in #SanFranciscoBay – twice! 🐋🌁 The whale was feeding, a sign the Bay is bountiful and attractive to more and more species. Report porpoise, dolphin and whale sightings to our experts at https://t.co/eg8Ba8mS00. pic.twitter.com/HGGWj2V348
— The Marine Mammal Center (@TMMC) March 17, 2021
Allison Payne, a researcher at the Marine Mammal Center, posted on Instagram about the whale sighting on March 11. “We assumed it was a gray whale since they regularly use the bay at this time of year,” wrote Payne in the caption. “We rushed down to take a closer look – and saw a dorsal fin! We couldn’t believe it at first, but sure enough, we had a feeding humpback – nearly a month earlier than the previous record in the Bay.”
Payne went on to explain that the whale appeared to be “feeding on a late herring run” near Cavallo Point. The Marine Mammal Center later sighted the whale again in the Bay.
Gray whales are typically seen in the Bay at this time of year, but humpbacks usually aren’t expected until late April. Bill Keener, Marine Mammal Center field researcher, described this behavior as “very unusual” in an interview with SFGATE. “I saw it in a massive feeding flock of birds — gulls and cormorants — feeding on anchovy. The birds were picking the fish off the water as the whale was pushing the bait to the surface.”
Boaters are warned to take care if seeing any kind of whale feeding in the Bay, as whales can breach and potentially cause harm to small boats and kayaks. Nonetheless, be sure to keep an eye out for this humpback, as well as harbor porpoises and more from the Golden Gate Bridge!
[Featured Image: @whalegirlorg via Instagram]