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Farallon Islands

While off limits to the public, the Farallon Islands are centered in one of the richest marine ecosystems in the world.

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Difficulty: Strenuous
Duration: Full day

Overview :  Established as a national wildlife refuge 100 years ago, the Farallon Islands are centered in one of the richest marine ecosystems in ... more »

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Points of Interest

1. Getting onto the Island

Arriving at the largest island of the Farallones isn't easy. The surrounding waters are too rough for a dock to be built, so visitors and scientists are transferred to a smaller zodiac, which is hooked into a large crane. The crane lifts the boat out of the surf and onto land.

Biologist Russell Bradley navigates the transfer from air to water.

... More

2. Western Gulls - Farallones

In this video, biologist Russell Bradley talks about those ubiquitous Western Gulls and the Farallones' importance as an avian breeding mecca.

3. Water Collector

The large paved area is rainwater collector, originally built to service the fog horn. In 1880, the Lighthouse Board approved a steam-fired fog signal to help ships stay clear of the rocky islands. The water helped cool the coal-powered boilers. The Farallones were the site of many shipwrecks. Credit: San Francisco History Center, San Francisco... More

4. Lighthouse Keeper's House

This is one of two houses built in the 1870's to for the lighthouse keepers and their families. They lived on the Southeast Farallon island year round, tending to the light.

One of the houses in 1954. You can see the water collector on the left. Credit: San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library

Some of the Farallones'... More

5. Lighthouse

The lighthouse on the Southeast Farallon Island was built in 1853 on the highest point of island - 348 feet above sea level. Credit: San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library

All the supplies to build the lighthouse had to be laboriously carried up the zig-zag path, including the lighthouse lens, which reportedly arrived in 73... More

6. Egg House

In this video, Biologist Russell Bradley describes one of the historical buildings on the island, which belonged to the Pacific Egg Company.

7. Common Murres

In this video, Biologist Russell Bradley shows us Common Murres, the most abundant species on the island during bird breeding season.

8. Cassin's Auklet Check

A PRBO Conservation Science intern checks out a Cassin's Auklet chick. This chick is fully feathered and ready to fledge. During the day, you won't see any Cassin's Auklets out and about on the island. They're nocturnal during the nesting season in order avoid predators like Western Gulls.

These strange boxes are actually man-made Cassin's... More

9. Sea Lions

The sights and sounds of sea lions lounging on the Farallones.