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Whale Watching at the Farallon Islands

Please join SF Bay American Cetacean Society chapter and The Oceanic Society for a whale of a time Whale Watching at the Farallon Islands!

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 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. Twenty three species of marine mammals, including eighteen species of whales and dolphins, can be found here.

The Farallon Islands National Wildlife Refuge is the largest seabird rookery in thecontiguous United States with nesting Tufted Puffins, Pigeon Guillemots, RhinocerosAuklets, Common Murres and other species. Migratory seabirds such as Shearwaters, Jaegers, and Phalaropes are also attracted by these nutrient-rich waters. Island beaches andbeaches are covered with sea lions, including massive Steller's sea lions, currently on the Endangered Species List and recently proposed for delisting.

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.

This summer has had early and exceptional sighting! Here’s a little teaster. Cetacean sighting from August 5th:

8-10 Blue whales, 70-75 Humpback whales, 5 Bottlenose dolphins, and 15 harbor porpoises. In addition, a rare Northern gannett was spotted at the islands as well as a Leatherback turtle halfway out to the islands.Details: Under sunny skies and calm seas, passengers left the dock and immediately spotted5 bottlenose dolphins in the bay between Crissy field and Ft. Point. Approximately half wayout to the islands a Leatherback sea turtle was spotted. From 3 miles W to 6 miles NW of SEFI 8-10 Blue whales were spotted feeding on the abundant krill. 70-75 Humpback whales were also spotted in this area feeding, lob tailing, flipper flapping, and dozens of flukes. One animal was also seen breaching. Other marine mammals sighted included 12 Harbor porpoises,[masked] California sea lions, 30-40 Steller sea lions, 30-40 Harbor seals, and 70-80 Northern fur seals.

Sea birds observed on this trip included a rare Northern gannett, 1 Black-footed albatross,2 Northern fulmars, 20 Pink-footed shearwaters,[masked] Sooty shearwaters, 60-70 Brownpelicans, 200 Brandt’s cormorants, 14 Pelagic cormorants, 3 Black Oyster catchers, 50 Red-necked phalaropes, 400 Phalarope sp., 20 Heermann’s gulls, 200 Western gulls, 30 Elegantterns, 400 Common murres, 200 Pigeon guillemots, and 20 Tufted puffins.

Go to to sign up and for full Trip Information

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. Free parking is available from both departure points.

Farallon Islands whale watching participants will receive a free DVD, Farallon Islands: Past, Present and Future. Produced by the Oceanic Society in cooperation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service , the film provides a virtual walking tour of the islands, introducing the viewer to the islands' researchers, refuge staff and former residents as they provide first-hand insights about the wildlife, history , and current conservation efforts. The DVD will be distributed aboard the vessel.

Oceanic Society is being very gracious in giving SF Bay ACS members a 10% discount, and 10% will go to SF Bay Area American Cetacean Society chapter Student Travel Grant Awards fund!

YOU MUST TELL THEM You Are with SF BAY ACS to receive the 10% DISCOUNT.

An RSVP here does not reserve a spot on the boat. You must go to the link above to make an official reservation.

Look forward to seeing you on the water!

Blue Whale photo by Isidore Szczepaniak, Oceanic Society, taken a couple of weeks ago.

Humpback fluke with Salty Lady (taken a few years ago)

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  • Lynette R. K.

    Great group of people and trip with very rare encounter of a leatherback sea turtle.

    September 23, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    Fantastic and educational trip. Plan to go again! We had a rare event, saw a endangered leatherback turtle along with 3 humpback whales.

    September 22, 2012

  • Lynette R. K.

    Just a reminder to be sure to contact Oceanic Society and pay prior to our trip on Saturday. You are not able to show up without registering/paying prior.
    I'll be boarding in Sausalito. If you have any questions please contact me.
    Look forward to seeing you there!

    September 19, 2012

    • Lynette R. K.

      The check-in time for Sausalito will be 7:15 am and the boat will depart at 7:30am. Sausalito Clipper Yacht Harbor on Harbor Drive. Go to the end of Harbor (pass Molly stones, Post office, etc.
      Free parking at both sites.
      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.

      Park in the free parking lot and meet at the gate. There will be many people there with the naturalist for check in, then we will all go down to the boat together. The San Francisco check-in will be at 8:00 am for an 8:30 am departure.

      September 19, 2012

  • Lynette R. K.

    Be sure to contact Oceanic Society and pay prior to our trip on Saturday. You are not able to show up without registering/paying prior.
    I'll be boarding in Sausalito. If you have any questions please contact me.
    Look forward to seeing you there!

    September 16, 2012

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