Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary (GFNMS) celebrates its 20th anniversary on October 13 at the GFNMS Visitor Center, at Crissy Field in San Francisco’s Presidio. The festival includes a silent auction, children’s activities, environmental groups’ information booths, BBQ, and beer and wine tasting. Much like national parks, marine sanctuaries are federal agencies that manage coastal areas of special significance in order to protect their ecological and cultural integrity, and implement stewardship, education, and research programs. GFNMS encompasses an area of 948 nautical miles, roughly from Bodega Head in the north, out to and around the Farallon Islands to the west, and south to Half Moon Bay. Considered one of the four most productive marine ecosystems on the planet (along with areas off the coasts of Chile, South Africa, and the Canary Islands), the area is a prime site for viewing the giants of the mammalian world: blue whales. It is also prime habitat for white sharks, sea lions, fur seals, dolphins, Northern elephant seals, Dungeness crab, herring, salmon, halibut, and other flatfish and rockfish. The area’s fecundity stems from the seasonal upwelling that brings cold, nutrient-rich water up from the sea floor to the surface. When these nutrients are exposed to sunlight at the surface, plankton blooms and food production is at its peak. Given that a blue whale can eat up to four tons of tiny shrimp-like krill each day, it’s no wonder they like these waters. For more information about GFNMS, call (415)561-6625 or log on to www.farallones.org.
Bay Nature magazine ◦ July-September 2001