A humpback whale who spent two weeks lounging around Alameda — earning the nickname Allie — appeared to have crossed the Bay Monday and was spotted in Islais Creek Channel, near the industrial part of Dogpatch in San Francisco.
Whale enthusiasts and marine biologists have both been concerned for the whale, who appeared possibly malnourished and also to have a skin condition, though she put on a show for weeks, breaching in fine form with the backdrop of the SF city skyline.
Local photographer Susie Kelly captured an image for the ages when a massive humpback whale breached in the San Francisco Bay near Alameda.— San Francisco Chronicle (@sfchronicle) June 17, 2019
But the whale, nicknamed Allie, has marine biologists worried. Read more: https://t.co/lr4R5snsQi pic.twitter.com/2z253rHCUD
A humpback whale nicknamed Allie that has become an unusual presence in the San Francisco Bay may be ill, biologists say. Officials say the whale appears underweight with poor skin condition. https://t.co/pv62dOkn3s— AP West Region (@APWestRegion) June 17, 2019
Allie retreated into a relatively shallow and remote part of the Bay, possibly to rest, and spent days swimming around near the U.S.S. Hornet near Alameda, and breaching frequently.
The skin condition could have been due to a lack of blubber, caused by malnutrition, and it's unclear whether the whale had found a food source nearby or not. As the Chronicle reports, whale watchers returned day after day to the Alameda lagoon to see Allie, and even a "prayer circle" was held to pray for her improved health.
But then on Saturday she was spotted closer to Dogpatch in San Francisco, or at least biologists with the Marine Mammal Center think it's the same whale. As CBS SF reports, the whale may be on the move because her health is improving, and she appeared to look healthier as well.
KRON 4 seems to believe Allie was already headed out to the Pacific on Monday, though that seems unclear.
Humpback whales should be on their migration to Alaska at this time of year, and Allie's health issues aren't necessarily connected to the pattern of gray whale deaths that have been seen along the Pacific coast this year. As the Chronicle explains:
Gray whales feed by scooping up mud and siphoning out tiny arthropods found mostly in shallow Arctic waters. Humpbacks, on the other hand, can go into deep water to eat krill and come into shallow water to consume small fish like anchovies, both found in abundance along the coast of San Francisco and Monterey Bay.
Experts say that both humpback and gray whales have seen their populations recover to historic, pre-20th Century levels, which has led to their seeking out food sources in places on their migration route that they perhaps didn't venture into before. Humpbacks have been sighted in and around the Bay and the Golden Gate frequently in the spring for the last three or four years.
Previously: It's Officially Whale-Spotting Season In San Francisco Bay