San Francisco, CA

Whales in the San Francisco Bay and Actions you can Take to Help Them

Amancay Tapia

Dan Meyers/Unsplash

A significant number of gray whales were spotted in the San Francisco Bay in early April, as the population continued their northerly migration to Arctic waters.

Then, it was reported that four gray whales had been found dead in the San Francisco Area in an eight day period, with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) defining this as an unusual mortality event, and a significant die-off of a marine species.

When the Marine Mammal Center (MMC), the world’s largest marine mammal hospital, performed necropsies on the whales they could only determine a definitive cause of death for a female whale that was found at Muir Beach. They confirmed that the whale had suffered significant bruising consistent with blunt force trauma due to ship strike. They centre is currently investigating how the other three whales died or if starvation had something to do with their deaths.

In fact, biologists claim climate change affects water temperatures and prey availability, and this leads to shifting food sources for marine mammal populations and other marine species. Overfishing can also lead to reduced prey availability.

To learn about simple actions you can take to protect the San Francisco Bay, which has seen an abundance of marine life in recent months, particularly large cetacean species like humpback and gray whales and learn about experts efforts to save them, you can join a live event organised by the Marine Mammal Center.

Cetacean experts Bill Keener and Dr. Tim Markowitz will join the April 20 event to tell us what this recent activity means for whales and how we can best protect our ocean and the animals that call it home.

The large number of gray whale carcasses that have washed ashore this month are indeed alarming and a proof of the many challenges faced by this hard-hit species, some experts even fear that the species is under threat from human activity in the Bay.

Gray whales can be seen only two times a year in California when they migrate to spend the winter off Mexico’s waters, where they breed and birth near the coast of Baja California. They then head back north and stay off the coast of California in spring and summer to feed on anchovies, sardines and krill before continuing on their migration towards the cold and food-rich Arctic waters.

According to the Marine Mammal Center “malnutrition, entanglement in fishing gear, and trauma from ship strikes are the most common causes of death in recent years”. The Center’s researchers are studying the locations and behaviors of whales in the San Francisco Bay so that better decisions can be made to protect them and this online event is a great opportunity for us all to learn more about how to protect the Bay to make it a welcoming home for the visiting gray whales and other marine mammals.

When: April 20 at 3.30pm.

Please note that you do not need a Facebook account to watch the live event

If you have any questions , you can contact the Marine Mammal enter at 415-289-7335 or

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