Humpback Whales Still Summering in San Francisco Bay

This summer, Humpback whales have been spotted frequently around the Golden Gate Bridge and the western waters of San Francisco Bay.  Why?  Researcher Bill Keener of Golden Gate Cetacean Researchthinks it might have something to do with the improving health of the bay and other positive factors.

“We are lucky to have such spectacular wildlife in the Bay,” says Keener. “People should take the opportunity to get out on a whale watch boat to see the humpback feeding action while it lasts.”

The Humpback whales noshing on anchovies now are different from the Gray whales that pass the Golden Gate strait in December-April on their annual migration north to Alaska where they spend the summer feeding in bountiful waters.

The San Francisco Travel Association refers visitors to a number of whale watching tours and charters that can get people out on the water for an up-close look at these massive and magnificent creatures.

These companies are offering special cruises that will continue through September or as long as the humpbacks are being spotted:

San Francisco Whale Tours,

San Francisco Whale Tours recently posted a video of the not-bashful humpbacks in the bay:

Due to the influx of whales spotted in the bay, the company has increased the number of cruises offered through September.

“The spouts are visible from shore, but the best way to see the humpbacks is standing on the Golden Gate Bridge (when the whales are feeding below) or from a boat when they’re in spots that are more difficult to reach. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and many other sources recommend professional whale watching tours, since they know best how to safely and respectfully interact with whales,” explains Allison Payne, naturalist for San Francisco Whale Tours.

“San Francisco boaters aren’t used to seeing whales in the bay so they don’t always know what to do. It’s dangerous to the whales and to boaters to get too close, but following the law, going slow and staying 100 yards away from whales reduces the possibility of a strike. Boaters who violate this can get fined and cause serious injuries for the whales and for themselves,” Payne added.

San Francisco Whale Tours offers regularly scheduled tours as well as private charters, all departing from PIER 39.  The experienced crew and knowledgeable experts are committed to giving customers a great experience—and to protecting the whales you’ll see on your trip.

SF Bay Whale Watching,

SF Bay Whale Watching, the sister company to San Francisco Whale Tours, provides whale watching and natural history expeditions, departing from Pier 39 to the Farallon islands and around the bay.  Their website proclaims, “No whale, dolphin or harbor porpoise sighting and the next trip is on us!”

“This has been a spectacular year for whales inside the San Francisco Bay and just beyond the Golden Gate Bridge,” says SF Bay Whale Watching owner Kat Nazar.  “We recently changed our schedule because of the whale sightings so close to the Bay, and even as far east as the Bay Bridge at times, and both of our companies now offer four two-and-a-half hour tours on weekdays and two on weekends.  Of course, we continue to run our six-hour tours to the Farallon Islands every Saturday and Sunday morning year-round.”

Angel Island-Tiburon Ferry Company

The excursion vessel Tamalpias, operated by the Angel Island-Tiburon Ferry Company will offer a two-and-a-half-hour whale watching/wildlife cruise every Saturday morning, leaving at 9 a.m. from Tiburon in the North Bay. These cruises begin August 12 and will continue as long as there are whales in the area.

The San Francisco Travel Association is the official destination marketing organization for the City and County of San Francisco. For information on reservations, activities and more, visit, read the Visitors Planning Guide or call 415-391-2000.

San Francisco Travel operates Visitor Information Centers at Hallidie Plaza, 900 Market St. at the corner of Powell and Market streets, and on the lower level of Macy’s Union Square.  San Francisco Travel is also a partner at the California Welcome Center at PIER 39.

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