A Brief History of the Islands
The island lie 27 miles outside the Golden Gate, 20 miles south of Point Reyes. They are visible from the mainland on clear days. The islands are officially part of the City and County of San Francisco.
The islands were initially exploited for bird eggs and fur seal skins, and then used as a lighthouse station and a radio station. They have been protected in the Farallon National Wildlife and Wilderness Refuge, established in 1969, and contain the largest seabird colony in the U.S. outside of Alaska and Hawaii. The islands are in the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, which protects the feeding grounds of the Wildlife of Refuge.
The Farallon Islands are an important reserve protecting a huge seabird colony. 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 pinniped come to shore on the islands, and in some cases breed. These are the Northern Elephant Seal, Harbor Seal, Steller Sea Lion, California Sea Lion, and Northern Fur Seal.
The many whales that have been sighted on our trips include Blue Whales, Humpback Whales, Gray Whales, and Sperm Whales. There have also been sightings of Dalls Porpoise, Risso’s Dolphin, Northern Right Whale Dolphin and Orca along our trip.
It is also not uncommon to see White Sharks as they migrate to the Farallon Islands and feed.