Monterey Bay is the place to be for whale watchers this time of year. There has been a sharp increase in endangered blue and humpback whales feeding along California’s shorelines. This is where they spend their spring and summer before heading off to Mexico and Central America for the winter.
These endangered whales are venturing closer and closer to shore. Why? Food, of course. More specifically, krill.
Strong northwest winds have pushed up nutrient-rich waters from the bottom of the ocean. This phenomenon known as upwelling has caused an immediate increase in the amount of krill, an essential food source of blue and humpback whales.
This increase in endangered whales has really been a help for boat tour operators in Monterey Bay—one of the best locations to spot whales, dolphins and other marine life.
According to Ken Stagnaro, co-owner of Santa Cruz Whale Watching, the business has doubled this year over last year. Although this may good for business, the increase in endangered whales has caused a whole new problem.
The growth of whale populations over this past year has caused several collisions with large cargo ships heading in and out of San Francisco Bay—one of the busiest ports in the world. This doesn’t leave the whale unharmed, either. Most times, the vertebrae are broken and the whale dies.
Officials are pairing up with conservation groups to come up with a plan to protect these endangered whales. In order to reduce the amount of collisions, there must be an improved tracking of whales as well as a re-route in ship traffic.