San Francisco Bay Wildlife
Wildlife of the San Francisco Bay Area


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Sharks of San Franscisco Bay Area

Leopard Shark
Leopard Shark - Triakis semifasciata
Image Source: KQED QUEST/Creative Commons
Brown Smoothhound
Brown Smoothhound Shark - Mustelus henlei
Photo credit Tim Watkins/PSRF
Spiny Dogfish
Spiny Dogfish - Squalus acanthias
Photo credit NOAA Photo Library/Flickr
Big Skate
Big Skate - Raja binoculata
Image Source: US NOAA
Longnose Skate
Longnose Skate - Raja rhina
Image Source: CBNMS/NOAA

Sharks, Skates and Rays are collectively termed "elasmobranchs". Around 11 species of Sharks are found in the Bay itself - including Leopard Shark, Pacific Angel Shark, Brown Smoothhound, Broadnose Sevengill, Soupfin Shark. The Leopard Shark is the most common in the Bay. Small Spiny Dogfish are found swimming on the bottom of the Bay. The Bay is one of the two primary nursery grounds for Broadnose Sevengill Sharks, along the California coast - they are known to pup here. Soupfin Sharks breed in spring, in the Bay and give birth before returning to the open ocean in summer. Bat Rays are common in the Bay. They look for molluscs, crustaceans and small fish on the muddy bottom. Leopard Shark, Spiny Dogfish, Brown Smoothhound and Bat Rays are found all the way towards the South end of the Bay.

16 species are found in the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. Many more are found along the coast and in the ocean including Monterey Bay. Salmon Sharks are occasionally seen at the waterfront or the beaches, sometimes near San Francisco city. They are often mistaken for Great White Sharks because of their close resemblance. The ones that show up close to shore are often juveniles with a health problem. Blue Sharks are often sighted in summar and fall on whale-watching trips in Monterey Bay. Basking Sharks are rare but are seen sometimes in Monterey Bay. A great place to see Sharks and Rays from land is Elkhorn Slough.

Bay Area Sharks

Bay Area Rays

Sharks and Rays Articles and Links

  • The Sharks of Monterey Bay listed on Pelagic Shark Research Foundation's website. 
  • Sharks of the Gulf of Farallones National Marine Sanctuary 
  • Sharks of the South Bay, by Zach Perron, City of Palo Alto Dept. of Community Services. 
  • Sea Stewards is a local organization which is working on Shark conservation and ocean health. 
  • Pelagic Shark Research Foundation is based in Santa Cruz and works on research and education of sharks and rays. 
  • Basking Sharks Appear, Briefly, In Monterey Bay — But Don’t Call It a Comeback by Lauren McNulty, Bay Nature, September 2015 target= "_sfbw" onClick="link_popup(this); return false" title="Link opens in new (SFBW) window" class="flaglink"> 
  • A New Haven for the Leopard Shark by Alessandra Bergamin, Bay Nature, April 2014 
  • Salmon Shark washes up on Stinson Beach, KQED News, Aug 2013 
  • Fascinating Facts About Sevengill Sharks by Sharol Nelson-Embry, KQED Science, Aug 2013. 
  • Leopard Sharks flourishing in south San Francisco Bay as wetlands are restored, by Paul Rogers, San Jose Mercury News, July 2013. 
  • Notes from the Field: The Bat Ray of the Marsh, by Crescent Calimpong, Save the Bay blog, April 2012. 
  • "City of the Shark" - a documentary on the Bay's sharks by David McGuire of Sea Stewards, showcasing the Sevengill Shark, 2010. 
  • Sharks, rays thrive in Elkhorn Slough's muddy waters, by Tom Ragan, in Santa Cruz Sentinel, June 19, 2007. 
  • Monitoring Sharks and Rays at Elkhorn Slough, by Kerstin Wasson, ESNERR, Oct 2002. 
  • Peering into Muddy Waters: The Sharks of San Francisco Bay, an article in Bay Nature by Ron Russo, Apr 2001. Local details about 5 of the most common species. 


Ano Nuevo Island White Shark Study/Pelagic Shark Research Foundation from Sean Van Sommeran on Vimeo.

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