Wildlife Watching at Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary

Just 50 miles northwest of the busy streets of San Francisco and 20 miles offshore of the historic Point Reyes Lighthouse, a huge rocky mountain rises from the ocean floor to within 115 feet of the Pacific surface. The 93 million-year-old formation, once a chunk of the southern Sierra Nevada, sheared off and slowly edged along the San Andreas Fault to the North Coast. It lay undiscovered until the 1850s and wasn't seen by human eyes until 1978.

The 26-square-mile granite mass known as Cordell Bank is a hotspot for scores of species of seabirds and whales that fly and swim thousands of miles to feast on an abundance of food procured by the wind, the Earth's rotation and a southbound current that sweeps along the California coast. Nutrients drawn from the ocean's frigid depths provide the base of a food chain that sustains life forms ranging from microscopic plankton to the world's largest creature, the blue whale.

Come participate in an all-day ocean wildlife viewing adventure. Find out what marine scientists are learning from their research in this unique area of the globe. Discover why this region has one of the largest concentrations of blue whales in the world and is a destination for numerous seabirds. As we cruise out to the Bank, we may encounter pods of Pacific white-sided dolphins, Dall’s porpoise, seals and numerous seabirds. We’ll enjoy and learn about whatever the ocean offers that day, be it seabirds, marine mammals, blue sharks, jellies, or more! Please note that this is an open-ocean excursion and the condition of the sea may be rough.

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