Lost whales: Homeward bound at last

After two weeks of cajoling, music playing, pipe banging, water spraying and every other tactic would-be rescuers could come up with to try to get two wayward whales to head out of the Sacramento Delta and back out to sea, San Francisco's lost humpbacks have finally started swimming home.

Delta and Dawn, a mother humpback and her calf who made a wrong turn and got stuck near Rio Vista, Calif., delighted crowds on the shores — and on television news broadcasts — on Sunday when they finally started swimming, cavorting, jumping, spraying and acting a bit more like healthy, happy whales again.

They are well on their way to sea but not yet out of danger, however.

Scientists have said that the humpbacks, who had completed about 20 miles of their journey but had yet to swim another 50 miles as of Sunday morning, could face harm from large ships as they get closer to sea. A coast guard flotilla is trying to maintain a “safe zone” for them.

Get the full story on Examiner.com and all of the latest updates on our special “Delta Whales” web page.

Seemore photos on Examiner's “San Francisco in Pictures” blog.

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