Whales delay California crab season

Dungeness crab traps can pose a threat to migrating humpback whales off the coast of California.
Credit: Gary Todoroff

California’s Dungeness crab season will be delayed for the fourth year in a row to protect humpback whales. The whales can become trapped in the lines attached to commercial crab traps as they move through California waters on their migration from Mexico’s Baja California peninsula. Aerial surveys and whale-watching expeditions showed dozens of humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) in the region. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife has reported 15 entanglements, including three involving Dungeness crab (Metacarcinus magister) gear. The season usually begins Nov. 15. Authorities say if conditions permit, commercial crabbing could begin Dec. 16.

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