GOLDEN  GATE  CETACEAN  RESEARCH

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

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

Humpback Whale Photos

Summer 2016 in San Francisco Bay

  • SF Bay Area: Irregular along our coast from spring to fall. In summer 2016, humpback whales entered San Francisco Bay to feed on fish, an unprecedented phenomenon that prompted our research effort.  

Humpback Whale Facts: 

  • Scientific name: Megaptera novaeangliae
  • Length:  50 ft, medium-sized baleen whale 
  • Weight:  25-40 tons
  • Lifespan: probably to 50 yrs or more
  • Calves: single calves are born in the tropics in winter after a gestation period of 11-12 months
  • Diet: krill and small schooling fish such as anchovy 
  • Range: all oceans; the ones visiting California may breed off Mexico or Central America. 
  • Population: about 20,000 in the North Pacific  
  • Conservation status: the populations that migrate to California are considered threatened or endangered.

Illustration by Uko Gorter

Our project is designed to collect the following data --

Long-term Tracking: Photographic identification techniques (images of the underside of the flukes) for comparison with the North Pacific catalog. Sightings over time may tell us whether individuals come back to the same areas to feed.

Foraging Behavior: Multiple feeding strategies, including lunging at the surface, are employed by humpback whales, each with its own costs and benefits.

This research is in collaboration with Cascadia Research Collective, which is authorized by NOAA Fisheries to conduct humpback whale research.

Project Leader: Jon Stern, Ph.D.

jonneysuave@gmail.com

Humpback Whale Project

This project studies the ecological role of humpback whales in San Francisco Bay