Orcas, also called killer whales, are the largest of the dolphins and one of the largest predators of the ocean. They are seen off the Mendocino Coast only a few times a year, but the sightings are often very exciting!
Mendocino's Marine Mammals
ALERT: Report Live Stranded Marine Mammals to The Marine Mammal Center!!
(415) 289-SEAL /7325!
Report Dead Stranded Marine Mammals to the Noyo Center for Marine Science:
The Mendocino Coast is home to a spectacular array of marine mammals, from whales to porpoises, seals to sea lions. The U.S. Marine Mammal Protection Act protects all marine mammals, including cetaceans (whales, dolphins, and porpoises), pinnipeds (seals and sea lions), sirenians (manatees and dugongs), sea otters, and polar bears within the waters of the United States. Under this law, people may not harass, feed, hunt, capture, collect, or kill any marine mammal or part of a marine mammal. For a full look at the MMPA, visit NOAA’s website.
Ocean users play an important role in marine mammal conservation, so here are some basic guidelines for interaction with these amazing animals:
- Remain at least 100 yards away from whales and where they come to shore, and 50 yards away from other marine mammals.
- Do not try to feed, touch, ride or swim with marine mammals or turtles.
- Avoid following behind or directly approaching in front of an animal. Attempt to parallel an animal’s course.
- Should dolphins or porpoises choose to ride the bow wave of your boat, reduce speed gradually if necessary and avoid sudden course changes
- If approached by an animal, put the engine in neutral and allow the animal to pass. Do not engage the propellers until the animal is observed at the surface and clear of the vessel.
- When marine wildlife is known to be in the area, post a lookout, reduce speed, and be cautious.
Please report marine mammals that appear to be ill, abandoned or in danger to The Marine Mammal Center at (415) 289-7325 or SEAL! You’ll help The Marine Mammal Center provide a humane response to these animals by giving them a second chance at life and at the same time, help researchers with their ongoing studies. Please report all dead marine mammals to the Noyo Center at 707-733-NOYO. We are working with the California Academy of Sciences to collect data on these animals and their threats.
Humpback whales occur along the Mendocino Coast from early April to November. We’ve had great opportunities to view these charismatic whales off our coast both in spring and fall over the past few years!
The blue whale population off our coast is the only population showing signs of real recovery with about 2000 individuals now. They can occasionally be seen right from shore!
The most familiar of our whales is the Gray Whale. We are fortunate that they migrate close to the coast so we can often see them from shore and from short whale-watching trips on boats.
Have you – like many of us – found yourself enjoying the playful antics of a seal in the water only to realize it was a sea lion you’ve been watching? Learning to tell the difference will impress your friends and is an important step for marine mammal enthusiasts. But before we look at what sets…