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San Diego Bay appears to have become the temporary home to another wayward whale. First spotted last week, a gray whale up to 40 feet in length has popped up in several places, most recently near the Bali Hai restaurant on the eastern edge of Shelter Island.

The timing seems odd, as prime whale-watching in San Diego takes place from December through mid-March. In March of 2009 another gray whale (nicknamed "Diego") wandered into the bay and garnered considerable attention from media and whale-watchers during its week-plus stay. During this time bay-tour operators reported a significant spike in business.

Guests on recent Hornblower dining cruises around the bay have also been treated to unexpected whale sightings. Boaters have been warned to exercise caution, as gray whales are protected by the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act. All vessels are warned to keep a minimum distance of 100 yards. Fines for hitting a whale with a boat can reach $12,000 under the Act’s provisions.

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