Whales are charismatic creatures. They have a powerful effect on us and such an unparalleled presence in the sea that they truly connect us to our marine environment.
In May through summer of 2016 Humpback and Blue whales were seen feeding off the coast of San Francisco in unprecedented numbers. No one seems to know if it was due to warm waters, an abundance of food – Krill, Anchovies. etc. – or due to Climate Change.
Lucky for porpoise, dolphin and whale lovers around the San Francisco Bay, Harbor porpoises and Bottlenose dolphins now seem to be inhabiting the Bay and more Humpback Whales are visiting during unusual times of the year. According to scientists at the American Cetacean Society, SF Chapter, Bottlenose dolphins were rarely found in the Bay prior to the 1982-3 El Nino.
Due to advances in identification and tracking technologies, we can get to know these gentle giants from our computers, out on the water or even studying to become naturalists and sharing your whale knowledge with others.
Golden Gate Cetacean Research (GGCR) is devoted to research on cetaceans to add to the body of knowledge about porpoises, dolphins and whales inhabiting the SF Bay waters, so that proper conservation efforts can be made. This team (cetacean researchers) possesses strong expertise in identifying and photographing these mammals. They can track Harbor porpoises and Bottlenose dolphins by matching their scars and pigmentation in their photo journals.
Their findings show:
- Porpoises are now in SF Bay year round
- Up to a hundred porpoises can be seen in the Bay on a single day
- Mothers seem to be raising their calves in the Bay; they think maybe using the sheltered waters as a nursery
- Bottlenose dolphins arrived in SF Bay in 2001 and there are now about 90 of these dolphins in the Bay, most of whom match photos from Monterey Bay, though one is from Ensenada, Mexico!
- Bottlenose dolphins are being tracked by photos of scars along their dorsal fin, emerging from their backs
- They can track Humpback whales by comparing the underside of their flukes