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Searching for Humpback Whales in the Gulf of the Farallones

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July 7, 1997 -- Designated a sanctuary in January 1981, the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary(NMS) is nestled between the two other California sanctuaries-- south of Cordell Bank NMS and north of Monterey NMS. The Gulf’s waters actually border those of Cordell and like its neighbor plays host to such spectacular creatures as the humpback and blue whale. This sanctuary is a place of species reproduction and mating.

The Farallon Islands and its surrounding waters provide a diversity of niches for marine mammals and seabirds to spawn and nurse ---bays, estuaries, lagoons, and beaches are all within sanctuary territory. Habitats range from Rocky shores to mud and tidal flats. The Common Murre and Ashy-storm Petrel are just two species that help make these protected waters -- 1,255 square miles in area -- the nationís area with the highest concentration of breeding seabirds.

The Radio Expeditions team went out to sea on a 17-foot zodiac boat to search for some of the sanctuaryís largest inhabitants -- humpback and blue whales.

Trivia: Did you know that this sanctuary supports 20% of the harbor seal population of California? Thirty-two to thirty-six thousand of these animals live off the coast of California.

Harbor Seals Harbor Seals
Photo: W.E. Townsend, Jr.

Common Murre Common Murre
Photo: W.E. Townsend, Jr.

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