Wayward Whales in Sacramento River

RIO VISTA, Calif. – Whale rescue teams returned to U. S. Coast Guard Station Rio Vista and herding operations were suspended just after noon today after attempts to herd the whales through the Rio Vista Bridge with boats and banging pipes were unsuccessful.

The 19 boats were able to drive the animals nearly four miles down the river but the animals turned around when they were close to the bridge and as the tide began to change.

Researchers and officials are modifying their strategy to assist the whales to return to the ocean. This afternoon, two Coast Guard 25-ft rescue boats will be on scene enforcing the 500-yard safety zone while a research vessel broadcasts underwater sounds of killer whales, the humpbacks’ natural predator. Marine biologists will continually monitor the whales’ behavior while the sounds are being played.

Officials are also planning how to re-deploy boating assets during this busy upcoming Memorial Day weekend.

The Coast Guard will continually broadcast to mariners the location of the whales and the requirement to stay outside the safety zone. All mariners should monitor marine channels 16 and 22A to receive broadcast information.

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