and updates

Collaborating Organizations: 

  • ​Estuary & Ocean Science Center (SFSU)  Link
  • California Academy of Sciences  Link
  • ​Gulf of the Farallones Nat. Marine Sanctuary  Link
  • ​​American Cetacean Society SF Bay Chapter  Link 
  • San Francisco Whale Tours  Link
  • ​The Oceanic Society  Link
  • ​Okeanis  Link


Key Research Findings:

Porpoises: We compiled the world’s first photo catalog for harbor porpoises, proving it is possible to track individual porpoises by matching  their scars and pigmentation patterns. Currently we have 650 porpoises in our ID catalog.  We counted porpoises entering and leaving San Francisco Bay, and found they are now here year-round, and over a hundred of them may be using the bay in a single day. Many mother porpoises are bringing their calves into the Bay, perhaps using the sheltered waters as a nursery. We are also the first to make detailed observations of harbor porpoise social life, including mating behavior. 

Dolphins: We have identified 100 adult bottlenose dolphins in our photo catalog, and found that most of these are known from Monterey Bay.  By comparing our photos with researchers in Southern California, we discovered one dolphin now living in the San Francisco Bay Area was seen in Ensenada, Mexico in the year 2000, a record long distance travel for a coastal bottlenose dolphin.

Whales: We are now tracking humpback whales in San Francisco Bay. They are feeding in the bay for the first time, and we have compiled a photo catalog of 70 individual whales.

Bottlenose Dolphin Project

Bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) are recent visitors to the bay. The range of this population extends north to coastal  waters off San Francisco and Marin.

Humpback Whale Project 

Humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) have recently begun to feed in San Francisco Bay.

Content copyright © 2017. Golden Gate Cetacean Research. All rights reserved.

Golden Gate Cetacean Research has moved its research projects and staff to                            The Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito. 

Please see: for a webpage where you can report your sightings of whales, dolphins and porpoises. Our goal is to add to the body of scientific knowledge of the species inhabiting San Francisco Bay Area waters. 

To report 

your sighting

  • Golden Gate Raptor Observatory  Link

Harbor porpoise entering SF Bay

Harbor Porpoise Project

Harbor porpoises (Phocoena phocoena) have returned to San Francisco Bay after an absence of approximately 65 years.


Field Studies of Porpoises, Dolphins & Whales