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Farallon Islands Whale Watching (May - Nov)
|DAY TRIPS TO SEE WHALES, SEALS, SEA LIONS, SEA BIRDS, AND MUCH MORE.
The Farallon Islands, just 27 miles off San Francisco, lie amid the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, a food-rich marine ecosystem that attracts whales, dolphins, seals, sea lions and seabirds each summer and fall, to feed and to breed. Researchers have catalogued hundreds of individual humpbacks and blue whales as seasonal feeding residents. 23 species of marine mammals, including 18 species of whales and dolphins, can be found here.
The Farallon Islands National Wildlife Refuge is the largest seabird rookery in the contiguous United States with nesting Tufted Puffins, Pigeon Guillemots, Rhinoceros Auklets, Common Murres and other species. Migratory seabirds such as Shearwaters, Jaegers, and Phalaropes are also attracted by these nutrient-rich waters. Island beaches are covered with sea lions, including massive Steller's sea lions, now on the Endangered Species List.
Each trip is led by an expert naturalist who assists with locating whales, identifying seabirds and other marine life, and who provide informative presentations throughout the trip on the islands and marine ecology of the area.
Bird and Marine Mammal Calendar
Spring-Summer (April-Aug): Western Grebes; Black-footed Albatrosses; Northern Fulmars; Pink-footed, Buller’s, Sooty Shearwaters; Ashy Storm-Petrels; Brown Pelicans; Double-crested, Brandt’s, Pelagic Cormorants; Black Oystercatchers; Red-necked, Red Phalaropes; Pomarine, Parasitic Jaegers; South Polar Skuas; Heermann’s, Herring, Western, Sabine’s Gulls; Caspian, Elegant, Common, Arctic, Forster’s Terns; Common Murres; Pigeon Guillemots; Xantus’s, Craveri’s, Marbled (rare) Murrelets; Cassin’s, Rhinoceros Auklets; Tufted Puffins. Tufted Puffins and general bird diversity is better in May/June/early July.
Fall (Sep-Nov): Red-throated, Pacific, and Common Loons; Eared, Western, and Clark’s Grebes; Black-footed Albatrosses; Northern Fulmars; Pink-footed, Buller’s, Sooty, and Black-vented Shearwaters; Ashy, and Wilson’s (rare) Storm-Petrels; Brown Pelicans; Double-crested, Brandt’s, and Pelagic Cormorants; Black, Surf, and White-winged Scoters; Black Oystercatchers; Red-necked, and Red Phalaropes; Ruddy Turnstones; Pomarine, and Parasitic Jaegars; South Polar Skuas; Bonaparte’s, Heermann’s, Mew, Ring-billed, California, Herring, Western, Glaucous-winged, and Sabine’s Gulls; Caspian, Elegant, Arctic, and Forster’s Terns; Cassin’s and Rhinoceros Auklets; Peregrine Falcon.
Marine mammals are found both in the summer and fall. Blue Whales, Humpback Whales, and Minke Whales; Risso’s Dolphins, Pacific White-sided Dolphins, Northern Right Whale Dolphins; Harbor and Dall’s Porpoises. California and Steller Sea Lions; Northern Elephant Seals, Northern Fur Seals, Harbor Seals, Sea Otters are also possible.
Full-day whale watching cruises depart from San Francisco at 8:00am, and from Sausalito at 7:15 a.m. aboard the 56-foot Salty Lady, a Coast Guard certified vessel, on Saturdays and Sundays, and select Fridays, from mid-May through November.
San Francisco: Marina Yacht Harbor (7:30 AM) located at 3950 Scott Street, San Francisco (Map). Parking is free, but space is limited. You will return to this dock at 4:00 PM.
Sausalito: Clipper Yacht Harbor, on Harbor Drive. Check-in time is at 6:45 AM, and the boat leaves promptly at 7:00 AM.
Duration: Approximately 8 hours. In order to visit the whale "hot spots," including the Continental shelf, and have enough time to observe the wildlife at the islands, an 8-hour trip is required.
Itinerary: Under the Golden Gate Bridge and west to the Farallon Islands. Weather permitting, we visit the Continental Shelf to search for deep water whales.
Vessel: Certified 56-foot Salty Lady. Our whale watching vessel offers an observation deck, indoor seating salon (limited indoor seating) and bathroom. Our captains are experienced in nature cruises.
Passenger maximum: 48.
Clothing: Warm, layers with water-proof outerwear for sea spray recommended.
Parking: Parking is free in San Francisco and Sausalito
Food & Refreshments: Bring lunch and beverages.
Age Restrictions: Age minimum 10; an adult must accompany youths under 15.
TRIPS GO RAIN OR SHINE!
Many trips will benefit from the participation of a Cascadia Research Collective researcher who will be on board to collect data on humpback and blue whale distribution.
Oceanic Society is a nonprofit organization, and has been commended by the California State Senate for its public education service through Whale Watching and Farallon Islands programs. In cooperation with Cascadia Research Collective, Oceanic Society sponsors long-term humpback whale research in the Gulf of the Farallones. Since 1972, Oceanic Society has sponsored educational natural history encounters for over 140,000 people. Program revenues benefit environmental education and conservation research.
For recorded information on Oceanic Society's current sightings of wildlife please call the sightings hotline: 415 258-8220
2013 FARALLON ISLANDS and
Humpback and Blue whales migrate to the Farallones from May through November.