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Gray whale reportedly hit by speedboat in San Diego Bay

July 20, 2011 |  6:33 pm

Beached whale 
Two boaters are recovering from minor injuries after their speedboat reportedly slammed into a whale in San Diego Bay.

Patti Picchietti and her 79-year-old father told KGTV in San Diego they believe they collided Monday with the same gray whale that has been spotted around the bay over the last week.

The two were in their 18-foot speedboat going about 10 mph a quarter-mile off Shelter Island when they hit what they said felt like an invisible brick wall. A jetskier told them they had in fact, hit a whale.

“I knew it was out there, you know, from watching the news the day before,” Picchietti told the television station. “But who would ever think that you would run into a whale?”

Tour boats and harbor officials have reported sightings of a gray whale feeding and fluking throughout San Diego Bay since Thursday. The whale hasn’t been seen since Monday’s accident.

Thousands of gray whales migrate each year from Baja California to the Bering Sea, usually between December and April. They occasionally make wayward cruises into San Diego’s harbor and delight tourists and boaters, who have given them endearing names like Waylon or Diego.

Collisions can seriously injure or kill whales and damage boats. Many of the nearly 50 reports of ships striking whales off the California coast in the last decade involve crafts much larger than a speedboat, such as military vessels and cargo ships.

RELATED:

Whale strikes sailboat

Environmentalists want ships to slow down, avoid whales

-- Tony Barboza

Photo: Lifeguards in Sunset Beach in 2009 prepare to tow out to sea the carcass of a gray whale calf believed to have been hit by a ship. Credit: Los Angeles Times

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