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Flotilla Pushes Whales Out to Sea

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Flotilla Pushes Whales Out to Sea

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Flotilla Pushes Whales Out to Sea

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RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

And here in California the saga of the wayward whales continues.

Two endangered humpbacks have spent the last week swimming in the Sacramento River, far from their ocean home. Yesterday rescuers tried a new tactic to get the whales to move on - making a whole lot of noise.

Tamara Keith of member station KQED filed this postcard from one of the boats in the Flotilla, trying to get the whales to go back to the sea.

TAMARA KEITH: We've got a dozen boats here, and we're forming what's called the skirmish line, basically to push the whales, to encourage the whales to go back south.

Mr. KEITH MILAN (Boat Operator): All right. Now that we got a pretty good line, let's push forward and try the same thing we were doing yesterday on the channel.

Mr. MILAN: I'm Keith Milan. I run the Martha. The idea is to line up all of the boats in a direct line across the channel and started to banging and the clanging. Hopefully it'll start driving the whale seaward.

(Soundbite of bell ringing)

KEITH: Each boat has a ten-foot long pipe that's about three inches wide, hanging off the edges against the water. The instructions are to bang on the pipe for three seconds rapidly and then pause and then keep banging until they drive the whale south.

(Soundbite of clang)

KEITH: Whales really are not supposed to like this sound.

It now seems like the banging on pipes may actually be working. The whales are way, way ahead of us. But they also have more than 50 miles left to go before they get home to the Pacific Ocean.

For NPR News, I'm Tamara Keith on the deepwater shipping channel outside of Rio Vista, California.

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