To See Gray Whales
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. Call (415) 441-1106 or visit www.oceanicsociety.org. To report whale sightings in the Bay, call (415) 409-GRAY.
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.
During peak grey whale viewing months, December through April, Point Reyes National Seashore hosts field seminars for watching these great whales. The sessions explore the natural history of gray whales during their peak migration from Siberia and Alaska to Baja California. Visits to sites around the headlands will reveal frolicking, mating, and birthing Northern elephant seals. Call the Point Reyes National Seashore Association at (415) 663-1200 or visit http://www.ptreyes.org/fieldseminars/l.
Gray Whale Resources
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, contact Doreen Moser at (415) 289-8620, or 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.
For gray whale basics, visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium website. Find out about migration, calves, diet, habitat, and more. Or call the aquarium at (831) 648-4800.
The American Cetacean Society (ACS) has information about gray whales on its website at www.acsonline.org/factpack/graywhl.htm. The local ACS chapter also has a website at www.acs-sfbay.org, with information about local meetings and events.
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.