Farallones Marine Sanctuary Association protecting our ocean wilderness through public stewardship




FMSA in the news



Read great interviews with our staff

Rietta, a Sanctuary educator who also writes a blog, has recently interviewed our LiMPETS Coordinator Abby and also another Sanctuary educator Erica, about the work they do to bring the ocean into the classroom and students out into the natural world.

Read Abby's interview here

Read Erica's interview here


Exciting things are happening in the Sanctuary

NOAA has released a Draft Programmatic Environmental Assessment (PEA) to evaluate possible activities related to White Shark attraction and approach anticipated to be proposed by research and education projects over the next five years within GFNMS and the northern portion of MBNMS.  These activities are being evaluated because they may have the potential to affect White Sharks within the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary (GFNMS) management area. 
GFNMS is interested in hearing from all stakeholders and interested parties and is currently accepting written comments on the Draft PEA.  Once the public comment period is completed, GFNMS will consider all written comments prior to finalizing the document.  

We've updated our White Shark Stewardship Project website to coincide with the release of the Draft PEA and we invite you to peruse the site at: http://farallones.noaa.gov/eco/sharks/welcome.html

You can find out more about the Draft PEA, how to download a copy of it, and how to submit comments at the following link:

Written comments must be submitted by April 23, 2014.


Proposed Cordell Bank & Gulf of the Farallones Expansion

NOAA is proposing to expand the boundaries of Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary (GFNMS) and Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary (CBNMS) to an area north and west of their current boundaries, as well as to amend existing sanctuary regulations and add new regulations. NOAA is also proposing to revise the corresponding sanctuary terms of designation and management plans.

The purpose of this action is to extend sanctuary protections to an area that has nationally significant marine resources and habitats and is the source of nutrient-rich upwelled waters for the existing sanctuaries. NOAA is soliciting public comment on the draft proposed rule (PDF, 450KB), Draft Environmental Impact Statement (PDF, 15MB), and revised CBNMS (PDF, 2MB) and GFNMS (PDF, 2MB) management plans.

While no final decisions have been made, the proposed action and alternatives reflect consideration of comments received from the public; the sanctuary advisory councils; Federal, State, and local agencies; and stakeholder groups.

Provide Public Comment (by Jun 30, 2014)

The public comment period is open from Apr 14 - Jun 30, 2014. There are three ways to provide public comment:

1. Attend a Public Hearing (see dates below)

2. Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NOS-2012-0228external link, click the “Comment Now!” icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments.

3. Mail: Maria Brown, Sanctuary Superintendent, Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, 991 Marine Drive, The Presidio, San Francisco, CA 94129

Instructions: Comments sent by any other method, to any other address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, may not be considered by NOAA. All comments received are a part of the public record and will generally be posted for public viewing on www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying information (e.g., name, address, etc.), confidential business information, or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily by the sender will be publicly accessible. ONMS will accept anonymous comments (enter "N/A" in the required fields if you wish to remain anonymous). Attachments to electronic comments will be accepted in Microsoft Word, Excel, or Adobe PDF file formats only.

Public Hearings

May 22, 2014
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Bay Model Visitor Center, 6 pm
2100 Bridgeway Blvd., Sausalito, CA 94965

Jun 16, 2014
Point Arena City Hall, 6 pm
451 School St., Point Arena, CA 95468

Jun 17, 2014
Gualala Community Center, 6 pm
47950 Center St., Gualala, CA 95445

Jun 18, 2014
Grange Hall, 6 pm
1370 Bodega Ave., Bodega Bay, CA 94923




NOAA’s Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary cautions public to avoid seal pups on California beaches

SAN FRANCISCO – Harbor seal pups are now being born on Bay Area beaches, and NOAA’s Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary advises beachgoers against interacting with any seal pups they may find on the beach. Newborn harbor seal pups, born in late winter and spring, could suffer permanent harm if someone not authorized for marine mammal rescue were to move them. Seals are federally protected animals under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, and to interfere with one could incur legal penalties.

Each year, healthy harbor seal pups are separated from their mothers by people who mistake them for orphans. Harbor seal mothers normally leave their pups unattended on beaches while feeding at sea. They will later rejoin and nurse them. The presence of humans or dogs near a seal pup could prevent a mother seal from reuniting with her young one.

Such disturbance can result in pup deaths, and if persistent around a seal rookery, could contribute to overall lowered birth rates, reduced habitat use and eventual abandonment of seal haul-out sites. Although some wildlife experts recommend keeping 300 feet from any seal pups, even at that distance disturbance can occur.

“The rule of thumb is, if a seal reacts to your presence – you’re too close,” said Jan Roletto, sanctuary marine biologist. “Avoid eye contact and back away slowly until they no longer notice you.”

The San Francisco-based Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, which manages sanctuary waters from Bodega Head south to Point Año Nuevo, advises concerned beachgoers to report suspected orphaned or injured pups to a park ranger, or to one of the following facilities to assess the need for rescue:

-- The Marine Mammal Center                                     415-289-SEAL (7325) (24 hrs.)
-- Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary               415-561-6622 x200
-- Pt. Reyes National Seashore                                               415-464-5170 (24 hrs.)
-- NOAA Enforcement Hotline                                     800-853-1964 (24 hrs.)

Approximately one-fifth of the state’s harbor seals live in the Gulf of the Farallones sanctuary. The largest breeding grounds are in the Pt. Reyes National Seashore. Drake’s Bay, Bolinas Lagoon and Tomales Bay are prime spots. In San Mateo County, the rookeries are mainly at Fitzgerald Marine Reserve and Bean Hollow. Harbor seals haul out in groups ranging from a few to several hundred. Females generally give birth on sandy beaches or rocky reefs to a single pup, which nurses for three to four weeks.

Designated in 1981, NOAA’s Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary encompasses nearly 1,300 square miles of ocean and coastal waters beyond California’s Golden Gate Bridge. The sanctuary supports an abundance of species including the largest breeding seabird rookery in the contiguous United States, white sharks, and endangered blue and humpback whales.

NOAA’s mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth’s environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources. Visit us at http://www.noaa.gov or on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/usnoaagov.
On the Web:
Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary: http://farallones.noaa.gov
Farallones Marine Sanctuary Association: www.farallones.org
NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries: http://sanctuaries.noaa.gov




Whale Alert!


Gray whales and their young calfs are on their way through the Sanctuary – NOAA has issued an alert that boaters should use caution and avoid impacting these migrating whales.

 Gray whales are at a particularly high risk of collisions with vessels, as they often travel near shore and may even wander into the bay.  San Francisco Bay and Tomales Bay always have a few springtime gray whale visitors. From March through May, thousands of migrating gray whales make their way north from breeding grounds off Mexico to feed in Arctic waters near Alaska. Many of these whales travel through busy shipping lanes off San Francisco in the Gulf of the Farallones sanctuary just outside the Golden Gate.    

Boaters should watch for the gray whale’s blow—or exhalation—which looks like a puff of smoke about 10 to 15 feet high, since very little of the whale is visible at the surface. A whale may surface and blow several times before a prolonged dive, typically lasting three to six minutes.

Boaters should not:
- Approach within 300 feet (the length of a football field) of any whale
- Cut across a whale’s path
- Make sudden speed or directional changes
- Get between a whale cow and her calf – if separated from its mother, a calf may be doomed to starvation.





What's Wrong with Our Seastars?



Starting last year, sea stars (aka starfish) along the west coast from Alaska to Southern California have been dying – due to what scientists are calling “wasting syndrome.” The stars first begin to wither and then disintegrate -- this is quickly wiping out sea star populations along the west coast! Students in our LiMPETS program have been monitoring sea stars at sites along the coast, and are contributing the effort to understand the extent and locations of wasting disease.

As reports continue to become more frequent and widespread, LiMPETS students have mobilized. Based on our student surveys, it appears that the disease has already decimated populations near Half Moon Bay and elsewhere. More broadly, our student efforts are helping to inform a centralized effort led by UC Santa Cruz to track the extent of the disease. For more information, visit the UC Santa Cruz Pacific Rocky Intertidal Monitoring Network website.



Pacific Mole Crab did you know?

The tiny, diminutive mole crab lives in a habitat where it has no solid ground to cling to, the waves and tides create constant movement and crushing force, and it must survive a set of terrestrial predators as well as marine predators. These doughty crustaceans not only survive the abuses of the sandy beach at the water's edge, they thrive in that challenging habitat right under the feet of many beachgoers who don't even know they're there. Read More >>

© 2005-2006 Farallones Marine Sanctuary Association. All Rights Reserved. Last updated 05/02/14.

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