Scientists say they have spotted Humphrey the humpback whale, marking the third straight year the leviathan that drew headlines in 1985 has been seen off the Sonoma County coast.

Greg Falxa, a researcher with the Cascadia Research Collective, said he first saw the whale Saturday morning at Drake's Bay."Basically, I'm the one who shouted `whale,' " Falxa said at the Bodega Bay Marine Lab.

Falxa and research biologist John Calambokidis said that among other things the whale was identified as Humphrey by the multiple scarring on the dorsal fin. Humphrey also is easily identifiable by the black and white color pattern and a lateral scar on his 15-foot fluke, they said.

Fishermen reported seeing the 40-foot humpback whale on Sunday and Tuesday.

The whale was seen 2 1/2 miles off Bodega Head, "just lazying around," Coast Guard Chief Warrant Officer Scott Richardson said.

Humphrey became a celebrity in the fall of 1985 by blundering into the inland waters northeast of San Francisco Bay. For 25 days, Humphrey wandered up and down the Sacramento River, poking into narrow sloughs and endangering his life because he was out of his salt-water habitat.

Coast Guard and Navy vessels eventually got the whale headed in the right direction and it cruised back into the Pacific Ocean, cheered by hundreds of people at a sightseeing area on the north end of the Golden Gate Bridge.