(May 29, 2007)

Whales in California's inland waterways heading home

From Reuters

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Two humpback whales that swam from the Pacific Ocean far up into central California's inland waterways appear to be heading back toward open ocean, wildlife officials said on Tuesday.

The whales, presumed to be a mother and calf, have been in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta for the past two weeks, at one point swimming as far north as the state capital of Sacramento after entering inland waters through San Francisco Bay.

After efforts to coax them out of the delta failed, the whales on their own began swimming toward the bay on Sunday and by Tuesday morning they were about 25 miles from the bay's landmark Golden Gate Bridge, where the bay and Pacific Ocean meet, an official with the California Department of Fish and Game told reporters.

Concerned about the health of the wayward whales, which have wounds likely caused by boats, wildlife experts on Saturday injected them with antibiotics.

The whales are believed to belong to a group of humpbacks which migrated from Baja California, Mexico, to spend the summer near the Farallon Islands off the coast of California.

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