Boat strikes humpback whale in bay, caution urged

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A photo of a boat striking a whale near the Golden Gate Bridge serves as a reminder to ocean enthusiasts to respect marine wildlife, especially the endangered humpback whales. 

Ryan Clapper snapped the photo as he was walking across the Golden Gate Bridge on Wednesday. He is in the Bay Area on his honeymoon, and saw whales breaching underneath the bridge.

He says he saw a boat trying to get closer to take photos, when the boat struck the whale.

"People are not using their common sense and not respecting wildlife," said Mary Jane Schramm from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. 

NOAA has received several reports of whales being struck by boats and even kite surfers over the past few weeks.

Schramm says humpback whales follow their food supply up the coast and arrived here in the Bay Area in late April. She expects them to stay through the summer. 

That means boaters should be extra cautious and keep their distance.

A good rule is to stay 100 yards away, or the length of a football field, according to Petty Officer Christopher Mullen from the U.S. Coast Guard Sector San Francisco.

He warns that whale strikes are incredibly dangerous for both whales and boaters. 

If you see a whale, you are urged to report the sighting to the Coast Guard, so they can send out a broadcast alert. 

Whales are protected mammals under the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Endangered Species Act. 

Anyone who strikes a whale, could face a federal fine.