SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (AP) — Grab your camera and binoculars: There’s rarely been a better time to go whale-watching on the California coast.

Tourists from around the world are flocking to the Monterey Bay to catch a glimpse of the massive marine mammals, including impressive numbers of blue whales, the largest animals on earth.

Longtime observers say they’ve seen a sharp increase in endangered blue and humpback whales feeding close to California’s shores.

What’s bringing the whales so close to shore? A bumper harvest of their favorite food: tiny, shrimplike critters known as krill.

But the rebound in whales has led to more collisions with the giant cargo ships heading in and out of San Francisco Bay.

Federal officials are now working with the shipping industry on a plan to help protect the whales.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

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