Humphrey, The Humpback Whale


Probably the most famous humpback whale is "Humphrey," who was rescued twice by The Marine Mammal Center and other concerned groups.

The first rescue was in 1985, when he swam into San Francisco Bay and then up the Sacramento River to Rio Vista. Five years later, Humphrey returned and became stuck on a mudflat in San Francisco Bay near 3 COM Park. He was pulled off the mudflat with a large cargo net and the help of a Coast Guard boat. Both times he was successfully guided back to the Pacific Ocean using a "sound net" in which people in a flotilla of boats made unpleasant noises behind the whale by banging on steel pipes, a Japanese fishing technique known as “oikami”.

At that same time, the attractive sounds of humpback whales preparing to feed were broadcast from a boat headed towards the open ocean. Since leaving the San Francisco Bay in 1990 Humphrey has been seen only once, at the Farallon Islands in 1991.