Field Studies of Porpoises, Dolphins & Whales
   in San Francisco Bay and on the Coast of Northern California

Harbor Porpoise Project

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

We have begun a multi-year assessment to document this population’s abundance and distribution, as well as to examine site fidelity, habitat use and reproductive timing.   

While the basic biology of the harbor porpoise is well known (mostly through the examination of strandings), relatively little work has been done on free-ranging behavior.  Since our study’s inception, observations have resulted in an image database of recognizable animals. This is the most comprehensive photo-identification effort undertaken for this species.  

We hope to answer several critical questions over time, such as whether the porpoises give birth annually or every other year, and the reasons for the species range reestablishment.

This research is authorized by NOAA Letter of Confirmation #15477. 
Project Leader:  William Keener
                            (415) 297-6139


1. GGCR's paper on a rare white porpoise in SF Bay:

 Keener et al 2011 White Porpoises.pdf
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 Harbor porpoise entering San Francisco Bay

 We are compiling an image catalog of harbor porpoises in the San Francisco Bay Area. Photographs will help us track animals over time — individuals are recognized by scars and pigmentation patterns on the body.   

Mother and young calf

Porpoise with pale scratch along flank

Adult with deep line entanglement scar on tailstock

Porpoise with dark pigment spot and linear scratch
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