San Francisco Bay

Video of Dolphin Sitings of SF Bay Whale Watching expedition August 2006. Northern Right-Whale Dolphin, Rissos Dolphin and Pacific White-Sided Dolphin were spotted that day and identified by Carol Kieper.

Dolphin information and Migration Patterns off the Northern California Coast

Cetaceans - Dolphins and Porpoises

These are the what has been identified in the area that we are aware of at this time. Scroll down the page to learn more on each species.

Cetaceans (Whales, dolphin, and porpoises)

  • Harbor Porpoise
  • Dall's Porpoise
  • Bottlenose Dolphin
  • Common Dolphin
  • Pacific White-Sided Dolphin
  • Northern Right Whale Dolphin
  • Risso's Dolphin
  • Orca
  • Gray Whale
  • Minke Whale
  • Humpback Whale
  • Fin Whale
  • Blue Whale
  • Pacific White Sided Dolphin (California Coast June through November)
    See American Catacean Society Pacific White-Sided Dolphin Fact Sheet Pacific White Sided Dolphin are about 7 feet in length
    Pacific White Sided Dolphin have 2 white body streaks
    Pacific White Sided Dolphin have a tall falcate fine
    Pacific White Sided Dolphin travel in groups of 5 to 100 dolphin
    Pacific White Sided Dolphin are often in the company of other dophins or marine life

  • Dalls Porpoise
    See Dalls Porpoise American Cetacean Society Fact Sheet
  • Risso's Dolphin
    See American Cetacean Society Fact Rissos's Sheet
    These Dolphin usually are found off shore.
    We have spotted them on our trips in groups or chorus lines.
    They are very playful and curious.
    They have blunt heads and usually have lots of scars or markings.
    On a particularly unusual event, when there was a shark watching crowd at the island, about 14 or so of them came into Moraga Bay at the SouthEast Farallons and went from boat to boat, then breeching in the surf at the point, circling back by every boat and leaving the area in the same fashion. A white shark even breeched to observe this. Many naturalists present can confirm this event.
  • Northern Right-Whale Dolphin

    Northern Right-Whale Dolphin have no Dorsal Fin.
    Northern Right-Whale Dolphin are Dark in Color sometimes with a white hourglass shape on underside.
    Northern Right-Whale Dolphin like bow riding.
    Are often found offshore.
  • Bottlenose Dolphin
    Bottlenose Dolphin information on Cetacean Soceity Fact Sheet
    The bottlenose dolphin is perhaps one of the most well known cetaceans, because of its widespread use in marine parks and research facilities. The bottlenose dolphin may be best known as "Flipper" (as seen in the television series). This is the dolphin most frequently seen along the shores of the United States. This species is very flexible in its behavior.
  • Common Dolphin
    Common Dolphin information on Cetacean Soceity Fact Sheet
  • Harbor Porpoise
    Harbor Porpoise information at Cetacean Society Fact Sheet.
    One of the smallest of the oceanic cetaceans, the harbor porpoise is shy and elusive, not inclined to approach boats and bow ride, as many other species of dolphins and porpoises do. On calm days these animals can be easily detected by the loud puffing sound they make as they surface to breathe. Because of its inshore habitat, it is one of the best-studied small cetaceans, and also one of the most frequently hunted.
    One of our boat captains refers to them as "chocolate chips" when sited. They are next to impossible to photograph. Sandra, SF Bay Whale Watching previous owner and founder, refers to them as rockstars of the sea. Live fast, die young.
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