San Francisco Bay Wildlife
Wildlife of the San Francisco Bay Area
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Marine Mammals of the Bay Area

Gray Whale
Gray Whale - Eschrichtius robustus
Photo credit: Merrill Gosho, NOAA
Humpback Whale
Humpback Whale - Megaptera novaeangliae (Monterey Bay)
Photo credit: Dr. Mridula Srinivasan, NOAA
Orca Whale
Orca Whale - Orcinus orca (offsore California)
Photo credit Josh Pederson / Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary
Pacific White-sided Dolphin
Pacific White-sided Dolphin - Lagenorhynchus obliquidens (Monterey Bay)
Photo credit Chad King / Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary
Bottlenose Dolphin
Bottlenose Dolphin - Tursiops truncates (San Francisco)
Photo credit Golden Gate Cetacean Research
Northern Right Whale Dolphin
Bottlenose Dolphin - Tursiops truncates (Monterey Bay)
Photo credit Chad King / Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary
Harbor Porpoise
Harbor Porpoise - Phocoena phocoena (San Francisco)
Photo credit Golden Gate Cetacean Research
Harbor Seal
Harbor Seal - Phoca vitulina (Pigeon Point)
Photo credit Ken Schneider/Flickr
Northern Elephant Seal
Northern Elephant Seal - Mirounga angustirostris (Ano Nuevo State Park)
California Sea-lion
California Sea-lion - Zalophus californianus (Moss Landing)
Sea Otter
Sea Otter - Enhydra lutris (Moss Landing)

A very few marine mammals like the Harbor Seal can actually be seen in the Bay. It is the last resident marine mammal species in San Francisco Bay, breeding and feeding year-round in its waters. California Sea-Lions can easily be seen at the waterfront in San Francisco. Harbor Porpoises have recently been sighted under the Golden Gate.

The rest of them are found along the coast. Some require boat trips because they never come close to land. A special whale-watching page has been compiled for more information on marine mammals  ...more .

Common Bay Area Marine Mammals

Here are some commonly seen marine mammals. Some like Sea-lions, Seals and Otters can be seen from the shore, while Dophins and Whales are best seen by taking a boat trip on the ocean.

  1. Gray Whale - Eschrichtius robustus
  2. Humpback Whale - Megaptera novaeangliae
  3. Blue Whale - Balaenoptera musculus
  4. Pacific White-sided Dolphin - Lagenorhynchus obliquidens
  5. Dall's Porpoise - Phocoenoides dalli
  6. California Sea-lion - Zalophus californianus
  7. Northern Elephant Seal - Mirounga angustirostris
  8. Harbor Seal - Phoca vitulina
  9. Sea Otter - Enhydra lutris

Whales

  1. Gray Whale - Eschrichtius robustus
  2. Humpback Whale - Megaptera novaeangliae
  3. Blue Whale - Balaenoptera musculus
  4. Fin Whale - Balaenoptera physalus
  5. Sei Whale - Balaenoptera borealis
  6. Minke Whale - Balaenoptera acutorostrata
  7. North Pacific Right Whale - Eubalaena japonica
  8. Short-finned Pilot Whale - Globicephala macrorhynchus
  9. Sperm Whale - Physeter macrocephalus
  10. Pygmy Sperm Whale - Kogia breviceps
  11. Dwarf Sperm Whale - Kogia sima
  12. Cuvier's Beaked Whale - Ziphius cavirostris
  13. Baird's Beaked Whale - Berardius bairdii
  14. Hubb's Beaked Whale - Mesoplodon carlhubbsi
  15. Blainville's Beaked Whale - Mesoplodon densirostris
  16. Stejneger's Beaked Whale - Mesoplodon stejnegeri

Dolphins and Porpoises (Delphinidae)

  1. Orca (Killer Whale) - Orcinus orca
  2. False Killer Whale - Pseudorca crassidens (rare)
  3. Pacific White-sided Dolphin - Lagenorhynchus obliquidens
  4. Dall's Porpoise - Phocoenoides dalli
  5. Northern Right Whale Dolphin - Lissodelphis borealis
  6. Short-beaked Common Dolphin - Delphinus delphis
  7. Long-beaked Common Dolphin - Delphinus capensis
  8. Bottlenose Dolphin - Tursiops truncates
  9. Striped Dolphin - Stenella coeruleoalba
  10. Spotted Dolphin - Mirounga angustirostris
  11. Rough-toothed Dolphin - Steno bredanensis
  12. Risso's Dolphin - Grampus griseus
  13. Harbor Porpoise - Phocoena phocoena

Sea-lions and Seals (Pinnipedia)

  1. Northern Fur Seal - Callorhinus ursinus
  2. Guadalupe Fur Seal - Arctocephalus townsendi (rare)
  3. Northern (Steller) Sea-lion - Eumetopias jubatus
  4. California Sea-lion - Zalophus californianus
  5. Northern Elephant Seal - Mirounga angustirostris
  6. Harbor Seal - Phoca vitulina

Otters

Mammals Articles and Links

  • Overview of marine mammals in the 3 National Marine Sanctuaries - Monterey Bay, Gulf of the Farallones and Cordell Banks.  ...link 
  • Field Studies of Porpoises, Dolphins & Whales in San Francisco Bay and on the Coast of Northern California by Golden Gate Cetacean Research  ...link 
  • The Bay area coast provides excellent opportunities for whale-watching. You can manage to see several species of whales, relatively easily.  ...more 
  • If you happen to come across a stranded or injured marine mammal, please contact Marine Mammal Center  ...link 
  • Harbor Porpoises' Remarkable Return, by Anne Bolen, 27 Jan. 2014, National Wildlife Federation. Good details about the Harbor Porpoises in the Bay.  ...link 
  • The Porpoise driven life, by Nikki Silverstein, Pacific Sun, 21 Feb. 2013. Detailed article about the study of Harbor Porpoises in San Francisco Bay.  ...link 
  • Safe Harbor - Welcoming Porpoises Back to San Francisco Bay by Bill Keener - in depth article about Harbor Porpoises near the Golden Gate.  ...link 
  • Hybrid Dolphin in the Making, 8 June 2011. Blog post from Blue Ocean Whale Watch about interesting dolphin behavior of Risso's Dolphin and Pacific White-sided Dolphin.  ...link 
  • Minke Whales in San Francisco Bay Area Waters, a resource briefing from the National Park Service, July 2010  ...link 
  • Video of Baird's Beaked Whales in Monterey Bay, October 2002 by Leslie Lieurance  ...link 
  • Status of pinnipeds in the Bay area - monitoring project of the National Park Service  ...link 
  • Northern Sea-lion by Point Reyes National Seashore Association  ...link 
  • Elephant Seals Battle for Love With Mating Songs and Bravado by Lauren Sommer, KQED Science. Listen to the embedded recording with calls and informative narrative.  ...link 
  • Northern Elephant Seals at Point Reyes, a National Park Service publication  ...link 
  • Fur Seals Making a Comeback on the Farallones, Bay Citizen, 7 October, 2011  ...link 
  • Food habits of Harbor Seals (Phoca vitulina richardii) in San Francisco Bay, California, Masters Thesis by Corinne Michele Gibble, San Jose State University, 2011  ...link 

Video

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