A Journey to The Farrallons, SF's Remote Islands
San Francisco these days doesn’t feel so wild to me, but then I step off its shores and head out into the bay. I think about how stunning it must have been when explorers first arrived at its mouth. People commute mindlessly over the Golden Gate Bridge day after day without realizing that whales, sea lions, seals and harbor porpoises congregate here still. Venture a little farther out from shore, to the Farallon Islands, and you get a sense of what it was like to truly feel wild, remote, at sea.
Named for the Spanish farallón, meaning a rocky pillar jutting from the sea, the Farallones were called “the devil’s teeth” by sailors in the 1850s for their ragged profile and treacherous shores, the cause of many a shipwreck. Today, the string of four groups of small islands totaling 211 acres is a National Wildlife Refuge, home to the largest colony of nesting seabirds in the contiguous United States. Five species of marine mammals all breed or haul out here, and great white sharks visit regularly to feed on many of them.
From “The Farrallon Islands are Off-Limits to Humans—but Not Wildlife” by Bonnie Tsui for the New York Times, 2016; Photo by Joshua Hull/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
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