The Farallones are on the travel route for several whale species. Grey, humpback,
and blues are the most common, while fin, sei, and right whales are occasional
visitors to the waters around the island. Harbor and Dall porpoises also can be
found in the area.
The Farallones are an important stop for many species of pinnipeds, such as
northern elephant seals, harbor seals, northern fur seals, Guadalupe fur seals,
Steller's sea lions, and California sea lions. Because the Farallones are so far
from land, the islands provide valuable resting areas or these pinnipeds. Called a
"haul-out area," the islands are a safe place for these animals to take a break
from swimming and to bask in the sun.
A small number of marine mammals are born on the refuge each year, too. While
the number of pups born to most species each year is low and variable, elephant
seals birth a significant number of pups each year. The first elephant seal pup
in over 100 years was born on the refuge in 1972 and now approximately 150 pups
are born every year. The first northern fur seal pup to be born on the islands
in over 150 years was documented in 1996. A record-setting 12 northern fur seal
pups were born on the islands in 2004.
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Farallon National Wildlife Refuge is managed as part of the San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge Complex.