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2 whales swim up Sacramento River

A pair of wayward humpback whales continued their improbable odyssey Tuesday, swimming to the outskirts of the state capital.

The whales eluded marine biologists and law enforcement patrols who had searched for them throughout the day but were spotted Tuesday evening by a helicopter pilot for KCRA-TV in the deep water shipping channel south of Sacramento.

Footage showed the whales — believed to be a mother and her calf — plying the canal about two miles south of the Port of Sacramento. They were headed upriver toward the turning basin used for deep-water ships, a journey of more than 50 miles from the point where the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers merge at Suisun Bay.

While it's unusual for whales to reach so far into the delta, it is not the first time. In 1985, a humpback nicknamed Humphrey was escorted back to sea after swimming in the delta for nearly a month. He returned to San Francisco Bay five years later.

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