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Whale draws a crowd near Santa Barbara Harbor, but appears thin and weak

March 9, 2009 |  2:42 pm

Whale2

The situation appears bleak for a 30-foot gray whale that has been loitering and sporadically trying to feed for days near or within the entrance to Santa Barbara Harbor.

Paul Wellman of the Santa Barbara Independent supplied Outposts with the accompanying image, one of several he captured over the weekend and posted on the newspaper's website.

The whale has had lots of human admirers but a close look reveals it to be thin and weak. "It's all ribs," said Capt. Mat Curto of the Condor Express, which runs from Sea Landing in Santa Barbara. "It's not getting much food and does not look good."

Curto said it's too big to be the same whale that swam into the harbor at about the same time last year.

Meanwhile farther offshore, Pacific gray whales are on their northbound migration back to Arctic home waters. As Curto spoke on the phone he had just left his sixth whale and was approaching a seventh.

The speedy Condor Express is running trips at 9 a.m., noon and 3 p.m. daily. Reservations can be made online or by calling (805) 882-0088.

--Pete Thomas

Photo courtesy of Paull Wellman/Santa Barbara Independent

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