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Wildlife officials warn boaters against getting too close to Marina del Rey gray whale

June 9, 2009 | 10:06 pm

A gray whale has been seen swimming in the Marina del Rey channel The gray whale that's taken up residence in the Marina del Rey channel has inspired curious onlookers to get up close and personal -- a little too close for wildlife officials' comfort.  Our colleague the L.A. Now blog explains:

It is a violation of the Marine Mammal Protection Act to get within 100 yards of a large animal such as the 20-foot gray whale, said Joe Cardaro, a wildlife biologist with the National Marine Fisheries Service.

Infractions can be punished with a fine of up to $10,000 and a year in prison.

“Some people have been getting too close,” said Peter Wallerstein, founder of Marine Animal Rescue, which has been monitoring the whale. “If people want to see it, they should enjoy it from the shoreline. You can get a better view from the rocks.”

Wallerstein suspects the whale is a "straggler" on its way -- albeit slowly -- from the warm waters of Baja California to Alaska.  Most California gray whales make this trip between February and May, but who can blame it for wanting to spend a little quality time in the beautiful marina?

Wallerstein told L.A. Now that his group is monitoring the whale to ensure it it's in good health, which thus far it appears to be.  For the present, there are no plans to try to lure it back to the open sea.

Wayward gray whale takes a breather in Marina del Rey channel

-- Lindsay Barnett

Photo: Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times

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