Farallon Sanctuary, Sharks & Marine Protection

Sharktober Farallon Island Adventure

Sharktober is coming and with it our country is overcoming COVID. We will again run trips after the first hiatus in over 10 years. Coastal upwelling is making this year one of the most productive in years with Blue, Fin and Humpback Whales abounding in the Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. We have one event scheduled September 5 with more coming in the fall of 2021.

We have a new vessel and COVID safety policy for the 2021 season. We require proof of vaccination or a covid negative test at the dock before boarding. Lack of this proof will require refusal without refund.

We are sanitizing before and after each trip and require masks the cabin. Please help us keep these trips fun and safe for everyone’s benefit, including the captain and crew.

We are excited you are joining us!

Join Shark Conservationist and Naturalist David McGuire and other wildlife specialists celebrating sharks and all ocean life on a life-changing expedition into the Gulf of the Farallones for whales, wildlife and our finny friends.

These events are on a new US Coast Guard inspected, departing from San Francisco near the Fisherman’s Wharf.

We meet at the Vessel by 0700 to begin boarding for an 0730 departure. Return is by 4:30PM.

Join us exiting beneath the Golden Gate for amazing photo and wildlife opportunities entering the Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary on a modern day Natural History expedition.

These are Farallon Island -ecocentric expeditions. We focus on sharks and shark conservation, and the marine wildlife of the Gulf of the Farallones but we learn about seabirds, whales, jellyfish and all the amazing marine life in our Sanctuary. We are shark specialists and conservationists, not a commercial enterprise, but lead these specialized conservation and education trips during what we call “Sharktober.”

**Now with the Trident ROV with live submarine viewing of the Farallon Island benthos, sea lions and even white sharks!

NOTE: our trips are ecosystem, conservation and education wildlife trips and not explicitly shark watching trips. We are one of the few outfits permitted under NOAA”s White Shark Stewardship Program to deploy a decoy and we may do so. However, we do not spend all day at the island searching for sharks. While we focus on shark biology and behavior while at the island and may possibly see a predation or dorsal fin, these are not shark attractant trips. If you want to join a shark viewing/cage diving trip please visit the NOAA site for conditions and recommended operators.

Once leaving the Bay our mission is to make the islands. Conditions may change and alter the destination in the Gulf of the Farallones to areas with wildlife along the Marin coastline and in the Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. Occasionally conditions prohibit crossing the Gulf after entering the Sanctuary. In that case we will investigate the Marin County shoreline as far as Drakes Bay and into deeper waters for whales and wildlife. Refunds are not available nce we have passed beneath the Golden Gate.

Directions & Dates

Parking is located on the street ( free on Sundays as marked-) or at the Anchor street Garage on Beach and Jones. We encourage and advise public transportation.

Please join us on the Vessel by 0700 to begin boarding for an 0730 departure.

About

Called the Devils Teeth by ancient mariners, these rugged, remote rocky islands host some of the most abundant and diverse marine life in the world.

36 species of marine mammals, including 18 species of cetaceans (whales and dolphins ) are found near the Farallon Islands, most frequently gray whalesblue whales, and humpback whales.

Five species of pinniped come to shore on the islands to feed, and in some cases breed and give birth. These include the northern elephant sealharbor sealSteller’s sea lionCalifornia sea lion, and the northern fur seal (many like the rhinoceros auklet, brown pelican were locally extinct and are now returning to the island after protection). Occasionally we see the smaller Guadalupe fur seal and we hope one day to see the return fo the Southern sea otter.

As part of the Fish and Wildlife Refuge system, the Farallon Islands are an important reserve protecting a huge seabird colony. The islands’ position in the highly productive California Current and Eastern Pacific upwelling region, as well as the absence of other large islands that would provide suitable nesting grounds, result in a seabird population of over 250,000. Twelve species of seabird and shorebird nest on the islands; Western GullBrandt’s CormorantPelagic CormorantDouble-crested CormorantPigeon GuillemotCommon MurreCassin’s AukletTufted PuffinBlack Oystercatcher,Rhinoceros AukletAshy Storm-petrel, and Leach’s Storm-petrel.

* These exclusive trips explore and explain the natural history of the Great White Shark and other local species. We will linger near the island searching for shark predation or other signs but we cannot attract sharks nor is this a shark trip. Although it is highly likely we will see many amazing species of wildlife, there is NO GUARANTEE of seeing sharks, whales or other specific wildlife. This is Nature- but lucky for us there is a lot of it out there and we have never been disappointed. This is not a Shark Viewing trip, but a shark conservation and wildlife appreciation experience. As wildlife viewing and timing allow we may visit the Continental Shelf to view pelagic species! However, with the Trident ROV, we have been successful seeing sharks and benthic habitat at Southeast Farallon, where few dare to dive!

Departure

Join us at the Vessel by 0700 to begin check in and boarding for an 0730 departure.

The boat cannot wait for latecomers. We will go out in fog, light rain or small craft warnings (very unusual this time of year) at the captain’s discretion but the boat needs to leave on time. We will return to the Bay about 4:00-4:30 p.m. Allow for delays, especially if unusual wildlife is encountered. Trips may be truncated or rescheduled if weather conditions deteriorate. See departure and refund details below.

Weather & Trip Rescheduling

Although this is the best time of year to cross the Gulf, weather can be a problem outside of the San Francisco Bay. Light rain or fog generally do not result in cancellations. Decisions regarding cancellation may be made on the morning of the trip in unusual conditions, or the evening before based on the most current weather report. We will make our best estimate of weather conditions the evening before and if conditions warrant a cancellation may be made. Notification will be provided via Universe.

Call into 415 350-3790 for a recorded message at 8:00 PM the evening before. We will make every attempt to inform you by email or this site beforehand but cannot personally contact the entire passenger list by telephone.

For passenger safety and comfort, once the vessel has left the Golden Gate routes up or down coast will be determined by the Captain. If conditions deteriorate this may be a coastal trip and the Gulf will be crossed at the Captain’s discretion. There is still plenty of wildlife viewing at Drakes Bay or Pacifica in more sheltered waters. No refunds can be given once the boat has left the dock.

Vessel, Safety and Access

The vessel is the 50 foot Silver Fox, seaworthy, and US Coast Guard approved. Boarding requires climbing up and down a six foot ladder. The vessel cannot safely accommodate wheelchairs or persons on crutches or persons with mobility problems due to conditions at sea. Special accommodations may be made at the Captain/Owner’s discretion but advance notice is required. The vessel is equipped with all required US Coast Guard life safety equipment including communications, fire extinguishers, first aid and man overboard equipment. For your safety, persons with leg or other injuries, immobility or pregnancy are discouraged.

There is a marine bathroom onboard. To avoid clogging nothing that does not go into your mouth and through your system should go down the toilet.

* Note- this is a wildlife experience. Although it is highly likely we will see many amazing species of wildlife, there is no guarantee of seeing sharks, whales or other specific wildlife. This is Nature. This is not a Shark Viewing trip, but a shark conservation experience.

Contact the organizer for more details or questions.

Children . This is a long day in the elements. Young children and babies are not allowed by the Captain. Youth over 10 accompanied by parents are encouraged! Please consult with us for making a reservation for anyone under the age of 10 years.

Sea Sickness
The Gulf of the Farallones can have rough waters. Seasick remedies are highly recommended, and they must be consumed prior to boarding to be effective. If you have not used these in the past please check with your doctor first, and read the directions on the label. A full night’s rest the night before is important. Avoid drinking alcoholic beverages the night prior to your trip and eat a healthy meal before boarding. Please avoid colognes and perfumes or other scents or food that may make you or other passengers queasy. Remedies like dried ginger have results for many. Other remedies include over-the-counter drugs, like Dramamine and Bonine, and prescription products like scopolamine patches. A new A new FDA-approved device, called the ReliefBand, sends a small electrical current through the same spot and has had positive reviews. We do not recommend any particular remedy and cannot be held responsible for adverse reactions or effects.

We do not endorse any specific remedies, but no alcohol and rest the night before, a good breakfast (low grease or fat), hydration and healthy snacks are all recommended. Here is a good survey article on motion seasickness.

What to Bring

  • Bring layers of clothing. Sweaters and sweatshirts covered by a waterproof jacket or rain slicker work best. Long pants, hats and gloves are helpful. Wind on the water can cool the temperatures significantly.
  • No sandals or open toed shoes. Soft soled deck shoes, sneakers or sea boots are desirable.
  • Cameras and binoculars. Covers, towels or plastic bags can protect your equipment from spray.
  • Field guides. We will have a one page handout and some references and displays aboard but you may want your own.
  • Hats and sunscreen. You can still get a sunburn even in the fog.
  • Food, Water and Drink. Food is not provided or available on board. There is some tap water aboard but please bring plenty of food, snacks and liquids. Water bottles- please keep it green and bring reusable bottles. Pretzels, crackers and carbonated beverages during the trip can be helpful to settle your stomach. Alcohol is discouraged. Smoking is Prohibited onboard.
  • Please no coolers or large items- space is limited!

FAQs

Where can I contact the organizer with any questions?

yes- at info@sharkstewards.org

Is my registration/ticket transferrable?

Yes- with prior notice to the operator- no transfers or changes within one week of departure.

Can I update my registration information?

yes

Do I have to bring my printed ticket to the event?

A print out is helpful-but we will have a printed manifest.

What is the refund policy?

The captain and operator will make the determination to depart, generally the evening before based on the current forecast. Trips may be canceled in advance due to undersubscription, hazardous weather conditions, Acts of God or emergency. If the trip is canceled for any of these reasons, we will honor your ticket on another trip. If desired, you will receive a refund, less a $15 processing fee, within 30 days of cancellation.

An advance refund is allowed if received by email or through Universe more than 7 days from the departure date. You must have confirmation for the return to be valid minus a $15 processing fee for each canceled reservation. You may reschedule for one of our other trips within the calendar year at no fee, or transfer tickets to another passenger provided you notify us.

Cancellation within 7 days of the scheduled departure time cannot be refunded. You may have the option to attend a trip at a later date at no penalty provided there is space at the operator’s discretion. Due to boat booking we cannot accommodate repeat scheduling changes. We will honor your reservation for the calendar year or one year from date of first booking if given more than 7 days advance notice.

In no event shall our liability exceed the obligation to refund more than the amount you paid to us. If you should miss your trip due to airline changes, cancellations, terrorist acts, acts of war, or related incidents, your fee will not be refundable. There are no exceptions to this policy. Once the boat has left the dock, no refunds can be given.

Other

Illegal drugs, smoking or vaping tobacco are not permitted on the boat. To be present to this adventure we request that you please turn off cell phones and pagers while on the boat. This is a green, low impact trip so please plan on minimizing plastic or other single use containers and hang onto anything that might enter the ocean.

We cannot be liable for loss or damage to your personal property while onboard the vessel.

Acknowledgement and Liability

Receipt of this contract via ticket purchase acknowledges your acceptance of the above conditions. The leaders and Shark Stewards assume no responsibility for personal injury or loss.

Sign up for our newsletter or visit us during Sharktober for our fall tours.

Each fall Shark Stewards leads unique expeditions into the Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary . Together we observe wildlife and collect observations on wildlife and human behavior, while educating the public directly and through media and public expeditions. Now with our SoFar- Trident remote operating vehicle we can view subtidal species live as we monitor species and benthic habitat in our California marine protected areas along the Central California coast and in the San Francisco Bay.

Sanctuary Tours

Take an ocean adventure beyond the Golden Gate for amazing photo and wildlife opportunities, entering the Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary on a modern day Natural History expedition.

About the Sanctuary

Called the Devils Teeth by ancient mariners, these rugged, remote rocky islands host some of the most abundant and diverse marine life in the world. 36 species of marine mammals, including 18 species of cetaceans (whales and dolphins) are found near the Farallon Islands, most frequently gray whales, blue whales, and humpback whales.

white shark
The Farallon Islands hosts one of the largest aggregations of white sharks in the NE Pacific

Five species of pinniped routinely live and visit the islands, and in some cases give birth and breed. These are the northern elephant seal, harbor seal, Steller’s sea lion, California sea lion, and the northern fur seal (the last of which, like the Rhinoceros Auklet, brown pelican and common murres were endangered and have began to return to the island again after protection). Occasionally we see the smaller Guadalupe fur seal, and we hope one day to see the return of the Southern sea otter.

A component of the Fish and Wildlife Refuge system, the Farallon Islands are an important reserve protecting a huge seabird colony. The island’s position in the highly productive California Current and Greater Farallones upwelling region provide ideal nesting grounds, result in a seabird population approaching 300,000. Twelve species of seabird and shorebird nest on the islands; Western Gull, Brandt’s Cormorant, Pelagic Cormorant, Double-crested Cormorant, Pigeon Guillemot, Common Murre, Cassin’s Auklet, Tufted Puffin, Black Oystercatcher, Rhinoceros Auklet, Ashy Storm-petrel, and Leach’s Storm-petrel.

Five species of pinnipeds use the Farallones to feed and breed, including these CA Sea Lions

California State Marine Protected Areas

California is the first state in the nation to establish a system of MPAs – similar to national parks and forests on land – to protect and restore ocean habitats and increase the health, productivity, and resilience of ocean ecosystems. Under the California Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) passed in 1999, California took a regional approach to the design and implementation of MPAs along its 1,100 mile coastline, and divided the state into five regions: the north coast, north central coast, central coast, south coast and San Francisco Bay. The state completed the coastal network of MPAs in 2012, creating over 120 underwater refuges along California’s coast, extending protection from Oregon to Mexico.

Water sampling with Shark Stewards and students, Farallon Islands

Our Ambassadors are divided into On-Shore and Off-Shore components and we are developing new online training tools to bring to stakeholders throughout the state.  Specialized materials are being developed targeting fishermen and public at the South East Farallon Island, Fitzgerald Marine Reserve, Duxbury Reef and Point Reyes.

Download a toolkit and other MPA educational materials from the California MPAS website and learn about marine protected areas.  Download the Golden Gate MPA Brochure.