Feds give whales right of way

Imagine losing your fingers in a fan. It’s the Russian Roulette for bored six-year-olds everywhere.

Now imagine your entire body colliding into the blades of a fan. A really big fan. With really sharp blades.

That’s the cruel fate that met a 47-foot fin whale who washed up on Point Reyes National Seashore last month, scientists hypothesized. Its spine and ribs were severed, caused likely from a collision with a large cargo ship’s propeller.

A recent surge of these whale versus boat encounters — with the majestic mammals losing, sadly — have finally resulted in some regulatory action. Federal maritime officials have approved a plan to protect the Bay’s whales by rerouting cargo traffic and tracking the location of whales in real time.

Migrating whales that most commonly pass by or enter the Bay include blue, fin and humpback whales. All are endangered.

John Berge, vice president of the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association, has been working with federal authorities to establish new shipping routes. He told The AP they are employing “good science and good management” to make sure these incidents stop:

“Nobody wants to hit a whale, just like anybody driving down the highway doesn’t want to hit anything either.”

Perhaps the most exciting part of this new plan is the real-time whale monitoring network that will employ sailors aboard vessels to report when they see whales. Once sighted, a warning will be issued to other ship captains.

If this network is successful, it could become a mandatory worldwide practice through the United Nations’ International Maritime Organization.