Underweight whale near Alameda continues to concern scientists

An adult female humpback whale was surfacing in the Bay near Alameda every minute or so Monday, but only quickly.

Marine biologists say they believe this is the first time a whale has showed up there. 

They say she appears underweight and may have come here for the calmer waters.

"You can see it doesn't have the normal fat blubber layer, they are supposed to. So it is somewhat emaciated. But it has a lot of energy," said Bill Keener of the Marine Mammal Center Golden Gate Cetacean Research.

The whale showed up a week ago and Sunday it was breaching the water. Scientists say it is not safe for them to get a closer look just yet.

"This animal is very active. Very big. And there is a lot of power behind those flippers and tail. If you get close you could put yourself in a dangerous situation," said Ryan Berger of the Sausalito-based Marine Mammal Center.

Whale watchers have been coming by to watch and take pictures.

"I've never seen a whale before in Alameda. Pretty cool. If I get a good picture it would be just a fluke I think," said Clark Peterson of Alameda.

The Bay Area has seen humpbacks before, and even received names including Humphrey, Delta and Dawn.

But scientists say this is different.

"Those guys were lost near Sacramento. This whale doesn't seem lost, but it appears to be ailing. And it came into a restricted protected area," said Keener.

Scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have declared a wildlife emergency because of the unusually high number of gray whale deaths this season, there have been at least 70 so far nationwide.

Scientists say it is too soon to say if the struggles of this humpback is any way related to the plight of the gray whales. But it's possible.

"Similar to the difficulty of the animals finding food, we think there is something similar with the humpback whale,“ said Keener.

"We're starting to see food sources abundant, then disappearing." 

The scientists are monitoring the humpback from a distance. If the situation deteriorates, they say they could herd it out toward the ocean, but that could cause stress.

As of now it's a case of wait and see.