National Wildlife Federation Donates $15,000 for San Francisco Bay Porpoises

“The return of porpoises to the San Francisco Bay tells us that the ecosystem is healthier than it has been in a long time”

04-20-2013 // Beth Pratt
Porpoise Breeching

In celebration of Earth Day, the National Wildlife Federation is making its first donation to Golden Gate Cetacean Research. The donation is in support of the organization’s work to help keep the porpoises in San Francisco Bay. It is the first step in a multi-year campaign to raise $500,000 for the animal’s conservation. The donation will be presented at a special Earth Day Fair hosted by Alcatraz Cruises, a supporter of the campaign.

After a 65-year absence, porpoises have made an amazing return to the San Francisco Bay. To celebrate this success and to ensure the marine mammal’s continued residence in the Bay, National Wildlife Federation and Golden Gate Cetacean Research have partnered on a “Return of the Porpoise to San Francisco Bay” campaign.

Sightings of harbor porpoises have recently delighted visitors to and residents of San Francisco, yet most do not realize the significance of seeing this animal in the Bay.

“The return of porpoises to the San Francisco Bay tells us that the ecosystem is healthier than it has been in a long time,” said Beth Pratt, California director for the National Wildlife Federation. “Many people played a part in making this revival a success, but many more will be needed to ensure it lasts.”

“The unexpected return of these animals provides a unique scientific opportunity,” said Bill Keener, marine biologist with Golden Gate Cetacean Research. “San Francisco Bay is now the best place in the world to study harbor porpoises. The more we can learn about these animals in their natural habitat, the more we can do to help them survive and thrive into the future.”

To help with this effort, National Wildlife Federation and Golden Gate Cetacean Research are asking citizens and visitors to report sightings of the porpoises. People can share their photos and report sightings at www.sfbayporpoises.org. By looking at scars and pigmentation patterns on the body, researchers can use the photos to track movements of the porpoises. This is the most comprehensive photo-identification effort undertaken for this species.

At this point, the National Wildlife Federation is the only major nonprofit supporting this cause and Golden Gate Cetacean Research the only organization conducting a study.

Efforts to publicize the animal’s return have included filmmaker Lisa Strong’s video of San Francisco welcoming the porpoise back to the Bay Area in which you can view the porpoise sitting in Ferlinghetti’s chair at City Lights Bookstore, shopping at Berkeley Bowl, riding a cable car, dancing on the ferry to Alcatraz and in many more familiar spots. In addition, the talented Bay Area rapper A-1 lent his voice for accompaniment and donated the studio time to record the song.

To learn more about the campaign, visit www.sfbayporpoises.org.

Golden Gate Cetacean Research is a recently-formed nonprofit created to focus on the study of cetaceans (the family of porpoises, dolphins and whales) in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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