Presentation: “They’re Back! — The Harbor Porpoises of San Francisco Bay”

Golden Gate Cetacean Research Organization presents:

“They’re Back! — The Harbor Porpoises of San Francisco Bay”



This is a good news story about our local cetaceans, and you will hear from members of the research team about harbor porpoises (Phocoena phocoena), which have returned to San Francisco Bay after an absence of 65 years. This presentation will bring us up-to-date with their newest research since their last presentation in January 2011. The fact that porpoises are back foraging in the Bay may say something positive about the health of the ecosystem, so the team has begun a multi-year project to document this population. Normally shy, harbor porpoises are difficult to approach and photograph. Yet, the team has compiled a catalog of over 125 individual animals, observing them from shore and from their boat. The research will assess the porpoises’ abundance, habitat use, social behavior, calving interval, and whether they interact with the other cetacean found in the Bay, the bottlenose dolphin. You will also learn how you can help this project by reporting your own porpoise sightings.

Golden Gate Cetacean Research team members:


William Keener
Bill is an environmental lawyer and former Executive Director of the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito. His experience includes work as a field observer for a harbor porpoise population study in the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary conducted from 1987-1989.

Jonathan Stern, Ph.D.
Jon is a biology professor at San Francisco State University. He studies minke whales in the Northeast Pacific Ocean, and has conducted research on killer, pilot, fin, humpback and gray whales, as well as bottlenose dolphins. He served as the Conservation Chair for the National Board of Directors for the American Cetacean Society.

Isidore Szczepaniak
Izzy is a marine biologist who has been studying the harbor porpoise population off the local coast for over 30 years. He has also conducted research on humpback whales in California and Costa Rica, and on bottlenose dolphins in Belize. He has worked as a naturalist for the Oceanic Society since 1982.

Marc Webber
Marc has studied small cetaceans including harbor porpoises (Gulf of the Farallones) and dusky dolphins (New Zealand), as well as pinnipeds, including Pacific walrus (Alaska) and Northern fur seal (Santa Barbara Channel Islands and St. Paul Island in the Pribilofs). He has worked as an observer for the National Marine Fisheries Service on cetacean survey cruises in the Eastern Tropical Pacific, and is the co-author of “Marine Mammals of the World: A Comprehensive Guide to their Identification (Academic Press, 2008)

$5 Suggested Donation goes toward Educational Research Grant Competition

For more information, visit: www.ggcetacean.org

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  • Susan

    Great. Thank you!

    September 28, 2012

  • Karin K.

    This was a very informative presentation (with bits of humor sprinkled in!).

    September 28, 2012

  • Lynette R. K.

    Wonderful presentation. The research they are doing has not been done anywhere else in the world and we are so fortunate to have these amazing cetaceans back in our bay - "our backyard".

    September 28, 2012

  • Teresa

    What a wonderful and inspiring evening, of watching a truly special slide show presentation/talk,
    by several long-time dedicated, passionate, and creative cetacean researchers! GREAT evening!!!

    September 27, 2012

  • Kenneth F.

    Excellent!
    Learned lots not only about the porpoises, but the Bay as well.

    September 27, 2012

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