California

Greater Farallones

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About

Designated: January 16, 1981

Expanded: June 9, 2015

Area: 3,295 mi²

Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, located north and west of San Francisco Bay, is both an extraordinarily diverse marine habitat and a dynamic hub where research and conservation, tourism and recreation, exploration, and learning thrive. In 2015, Greater Farallones expanded to more than double its original size.

The ecosystem supports 36 marine mammal species and also one of the most significant white shark populations on the planet. The sanctuary is also home to blue, gray, and humpback whales; seals and sea lions; dolphins; and more than 250,000 seabirds.

Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary is an outstanding tourism destination. Visitors’ outdoor recreation choices are endless: whale watching, boating, kayaking, paddleboarding, surfing and boogie boarding, hiking, birdwatching, tidepooling, and enjoying the beach. Additionally, there are exploration opportunities, learning programs for all ages, and chances to volunteer.

The sanctuary is also home base for a breadth of conservation science activities, critical research, and monitoring studies. Its White Shark Stewardship Project encompasses monitoring, awareness outreach to boaters and the public, naturalist training, and school education programs. Its research on deep sea coral and sponge habitats focuses on better understanding of their value as habitats for many species including those important to commercial fisheries. The National Marine Sanctuary Foundation supported the Maritime Heritage Team project to map and survey the estimated 300 historic shipwrecks in the area.