Biking through Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, I emerge into the pinkish glow of the sun setting over Ocean Beach. The sun sinks below the horizon, eclipsed by a large container ship cruising from San Francisco Bay toward distant ports across the Pacific Ocean. Like ducks in a row, two more follow and another is just visible in the distance.
Before these ships reach open water, they will pass through the Gulf of the Farallones and Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuaries, where endangered blue, fin, and humpback whales come to feed. Imagine a constant flow of shipping vessels speeding through one of the most abundant assemblages of marine mammals in the world.
The noise from all those ships disrupts the whales’ ability to communicate with each other, navigate, and forage. Even worse, ships strike and kill whales. These sanctuaries are meant to protect endangered creatures, but the proximity of the shipping lanes to the feeding grounds results in countless whale deaths.
The ships follow internationally recognized shipping channels between San Francisco Bay and major ports of the Pacific Rim. But these channels cut directly through the marine sanctuaries, where whales are put at a greater risk of death by cargo ship. Federal agencies are taking steps to fix the shipping lanes, but they need to hear from us.
Imagine as the sun slides into the Pacific Ocean, a majestic creature breaches the surface of the water, free from the danger of passing ships.