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Environment & Science

Southern California maritime shipping lanes to be re-routed to protect whales

The carcass of a whale that washed up at a Malibu beach Dec. 3.
The carcass of a whale that washed up at a Malibu beach Dec. 3.
Courtesy Jeff Hall/Twitter

Large container ships heading to Southern California's ports will be re-routed to protect endangered whales from ship strikes.

The International Maritime Organization has approved vessel lane changes on approaches to the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. The plan also applies to ships heading to ports in San Francisco Bay and vessels navigating in the Santa Barbara Channel.

The changes take effect in 2013.

The lane modifications were crafted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Coast Guard with support from the shipping industry.

Migrating blue, fin and humpback whales are prone to ship strikes. In 2010, five whales died from ship collisions in the San Francisco area and along the north-central California coast.

The 40,000-pound carcass of a male fin whale washed up Dec. 3 on a Malibu beach. Experts said its injuries suggest it was hit by a ship.