Office of National Marine Sanctuaries


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Press Releases

Apr. 22, 2014

Sarah Marquis, 949-222-2212

Pacific "Whale Trail" expands to California

A network of coastal sites where the public can view orcas and other marine mammals from shore will be expanded to include California, NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries (ONMS) and The Whale Trail announced.

Established in 2008 along Washington’s coastline, Whale Trail is a non-profit organization that works with NOAA and other organizations to raise awareness of marine waters, connect visitors to marine life, inspire stewardship, build community and promote land-based whale watching.

In California, inaugural viewing sites near San Francisco, Santa Cruz and Monterey will be established and outfitted with interpretative signs describing the types of whales and other wildlife that can be seen at each location, along with information about the area’s distinguishing characteristics. The first California stops along the Whale Trail are in publicly-accessible locations adjacent to Gulf of the Farallones and Monterey Bay national marine sanctuaries, internationally recognized for wildlife watching, especially whales. 

photo of orcas

“The national marine sanctuaries in central California are known for marine wildlife watching,” said William J. Douros, ONMS regional director.  “The Whale Trail is an outstanding program that can inspire greater appreciation for whales, boost local tourism and provide families with a great way to spend time together in the outdoors.”

The California viewing sites will be added to the Whale Trail website. The inaugural viewing sites include Point Reyes, Lighthouse Point in Santa Cruz, and Point Lobos State Reserve in Monterey County.  Additionally, the Crissy Field visitor center for Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, Aquarium of the Bay in San Francisco, Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary's Exploration Center in Santa Cruz and its Coastal Discover Center in San Simeon will also be added to the Whale Trail website as venues where the public can learn about whales and other marine mammals.

In May, NOAA and Whale Trail will hold three public events featuring information about the Whale Trail to be followed with a lecture by international orca researcher Erich Hoyt.  Hoyt will discuss his decades-long research on orcas in the north Pacific, including connections to orcas in California. 

"We are thrilled to collaborate with ONMS to bring Erich to California on his first-ever speaking tour here,” said Donna Sandstrom, Whale Trail executive director. “When it comes to orcas, there's no better storyteller, and no better time to hear his stories. From his early work in Johnstone Strait to his current research in Far East Russia, Erich inspires us all to better protect whales, dolphins and the worlds' oceans.”

photo of whales

Hoyt’s lectures will begin at 7:00 p.m., preceded by a reception at 6:00 p.m., and are scheduled at the following locations:   

  • May 13: Aquarium of the Bay, San Francisco
  • May 14: Museum of Monterey, Monterey
  • May 15: Sanctuary Exploration Center, Santa Cruz

For more information, go to

About The Whale Trail

The Whale Trail provides simple, powerful, and long-lasting reminders to visitors and residents alike that Orcas and other whales live in our waters.  Through current sites and signs along the Whale Trail, including two on every Washington State ferry, presently more than 22 million people learn about the Whale Trail each year.

The Whale Trail is led by a core team of partners that include NOAA Fisheries, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Seattle Aquarium, the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary, and the Whale Museum. The Whale Trail is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, registered in Washington State.

About National Marine Sanctuaries
NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries serves as trustee for a network of 14 marine protected areas encompassing more than 170,000 square miles of marine and Great Lakes waters from Washington state to the Florida Keys, and from Lake Huron to American Samoa. The network includes a system of 13 national marine sanctuaries and Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument.

About Erich Hoyt

Erich Hoyt has spent much of his life on or near the sea, working with whales and dolphins and marine conservation. An award-winning author, he has written or co-written 20 books and hundreds of magazine articles on whales, dolphins, as well as ants, insects, wild plants and other subjects. In 2013, Erich won the European Cetacean Society’s Mandy McMath Conservation Prize for his body of work.

Erich is currently Senior Research Fellow with Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC) in the UK, and Head of WDC’s Global Campaign for Marine Protected Areas. For the past decade, he has jointly directed the first killer whale (orca) study in Russia (based in Kamchatka), as well as (since 2009) the Russian Cetacean Habitat Project — both of them international collaborations with Russian scientists. In 2008-09, he co-chaired the program committee and was a member of the steering committee for the first ever conference on marine mammal protected areas (, held in Hawaii. After helping to organize the second conference in Martinique in November 2011 and editing the proceedings, he is currently helping to plan a third conference in Adelaide, Australia for November 2014.

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