Porpoises and dolphins in San Francisco Bay, oh my!

A happy story of an urban estuary that got a bit cleaned up and found itself home to porpoises once again. Now the neighborhood is gentrifying and dolphins and whales are moving in. Families are being raised in the bay’s sheltered waters. Scientists are having a field day!

Our Ocean

To the delight of animal lovers and cetacean researchers, harbor porpoises and bottlenose dolphins have found new habitats in San Francisco Bay and are now regularly seen foraging for fish and body-surfing in boat wakes under the Golden Gate Bridge.

Harbor porpoises, among the smallest of the world’s six porpoise species, first re-appeared in 2008, after a more than 60-year absence. The appearance of the bottlenose dolphins in 2010, in contrast, is believed to be associated with a range expansion of the species. Prior to the 1982-83 El Niño, the dolphins were rarely found north of Point Conception, according to scientists.

“I am not talking about seeing one or two animals,” William Keener with Golden Gate Cetacean Research said at the recent State of the Estuary Conference in Oakland. “I am talking about people watching a hundred (porpoises) go by in two hours.”

In the last few years, he and colleagues…

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