SD's ‘Biggest' Tourist Sticking Around

The tale of the whale in the bay is adding another chapter.  A local charter boat captain is reporting that this past Monday, San Diego's famous 30-foot gray whale actually did leave the bay, but then turned right around and came back. 

Like a lot of visitors to "America's Finest City", the whale, affectionately dubbed "Diego" by an informal public vote, seems in be no hurry to leave.

Troy Sears, captain of the schooner "America", says "Diego" swam alongside his vessel for a good 20 minutes as he sailed out on his Monday morning whale watching trip.  Sears figures it was only fitting that they'd be the ones to say good-bye to the whale since he and his crew were the first to spot it in the bay back on March 10th. 

The captain says when he saw the whale some two miles out to sea, he figured it was gone for good.  Monday afternoon, however, there was Diego, popping up right alongside "America" as the big yacht set sail for its second trip of the day back near the Embarcadero.

Since then, "America" and the San Diego Maritime Museum ship, "Pilot", report seeing "Diego" daily on their various trips out to sea or around the bay.  As a result, both are extending their whale watching excursions, possibly into May. 

The reason is two-fold: all the interest in "Diego" and because research shows that the gray's annual migration between Alaska and Baja is running about a month longer that previous thought.  Until recently, everyone believed the migration south ended the first part of April but spotters say they're still counting a good number of gray whales well into May.

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