TMARINE LIFE OFF THE COAST OF SAN FRANCISCO:
The FARALLON ISLANDS



Home         Installation         Links

                                                                                                                                 

The elephant seal population attracts a well-known population of Great white Sharks to the islands. In 1970 Farallon biologists witnessed their first shark attack, on a Steller’s sea lion. During the next fifteen years, more than one hundred attacks on seals and sea lions were observed at close range. By the year 2000, biologists were logging almost eighty attacks in a single season. No one had ever documented such behavior among great whites before.

While the males return annually, the females return only every other year, often with fresh, deep bites around their heads. The seasonal population at the Farallones is a wild guess: anywhere from thirty to one hundred. The Farallons are unique in the size of the Great Whites that are attracted. The average length of a full-grown great white shark is 4 to 4.8 metres (13.3 to 15.8 ft), with a weight of 680 to 1,100 kilograms (1,500 to 2,450 lbs), females generally being larger than males. Farallon Great Whites range between the "smaller" males at 13 ft. to the females which generally range between 17-19 ft. (The largest accurately measured great white shark was a female caught in August 1988 at Prince Edward Island off the North Atlantic coast and measured 20.3 ft).

Some individual sharks have been tagged and found to roam the Pacific as far as Hawaii, returning regularly to the Farallones every year in the autumn.