The Oceanic Society has offered naturalist-led whale-watching excursions in the San Francisco Bay Area since 1972. Excursions leave from San Francisco, Half Moon Bay, and Bodega Bay, on weekends from late December through mid-May. Tours also visit the Farallon Islands and Cordell Bank, a submerged island mass northwest of the Golden Gate Bridge. Program funds benefit environmental education and marine research in northern California. For more information and to book reservations visit www.oceanicsociety.org.
Monterey Bay Whale Watch leads tours out of Fisherman’s Wharf in Monterey from April to December to look for killer whales, blue whales, humpbacks, and dolphins, and from December to March to look for gray whales. Call (831) 375-4658 or visit montereybaywhalewatch.com.
Riptide Sportfishing leads whale-watching tours from Pillar Point Harbor on weekdays and weekends, with destinations including the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary and Año Nuevo. Choose from three-hour or all-day tours. Gray whale tours typically run from Christmas through May, Blue whale tours span early summer through fall, and Humpbacks can be seen throughout the year. Call for reservations at (415) 468-8433 or (888) 747-8433 or visit www.riptide.net/whale.htm.
In addition to rescuing more marine mammals than any other organization in the world, the Marine Mammal Center in the Marin Headlands promotes conservation education and scientific discovery. To find out more visit www.marinemammalcenter.org. To report a stranded marine mammal, call (415) 289-SEAL. If you spot a whale, call the center’s whale sighting hotline at (415) 409-GRAY.
The American Cetacean Society (ACS) has abundant information about whales on its website at www.acsonline.org/. The local ACS chapter also has a website at www.acs-sfbay.org, with information about local meetings and events.
Golden Gate Cetacean Research conducts local research on cetaceans in and out of San Francisco Bay. For more information, or to report a sighting, visit http://www.ggcetacean.org/.
The Farallones Marine Sanctuary Association and the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary are also good sources for information about gray whales. Contact the sanctuary association at (415) 561-6625 and the national sanctuary at (415) 561-6622.