Facilitating Science
Greater Farallones

RV Fulmar
R/V Fulmar Credit: NOAA

There are several resources available to researchers at Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. Please contact the Research Coordinator for discussions on facilitating research within the Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary.

Research Coordinator: Jan Roletto


The sanctuary co-operates the R/V Fulmar as our primary research platform.  Click here for information on how to apply to use the R/V Fulmar for sanctuary targeted research.  Larger NOAA ships are also available to researchers in strong collaboration with sanctuary staff, but are not readily available for projects with short-term (under one year) planning.  For more information on individual NOAA ships, Click here.


Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary regulations provide for temporary permitting of specific activities that are not otherwise permissible. Such activities are reviewed on a case-by-case basis. Permit requests are evaluated based on their potential single and cumulative impacts to sanctuary resources versus the potential benefits the activity may provide in terms of resource protection. Permitted activities are typically research or education oriented.

A permit is required when an individual wishes to conduct an activity within a sanctuary that is otherwise prohibited.  Examples of permitted research activities include: studies using bottom contact gear and any other disturbances to the seabed, low overflights within or near special wildlife protection zones, release of any untethered instruments, placement of settlement plates, various techniques for removal of invasive species, restoration of benthic organisms including clams, oysters and eelgrass, etc. Refer to our Frequently Asked Questions to help determine if a permit is required for your proposed activity.  Guidance on how to apply for a sanctuary permit can be found on this page.

The ONMS has the authority to issue permits to allow some types of activities that are otherwise prohibited by sanctuary regulations, but which generally present a public benefit by furthering the management and protection of sanctuary resources. A permit is required to conduct research within Greater the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary.


Recreational activities such as diving and snorkeling can be enjoyed at many National Marine Sanctuaries, however, the southern portion of Greater the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary is one of the few sites that is not dive friendly due to hazardous conditions, e.g. an abundance of white sharks and strong currents.  White sharks are less likely to occur north of Bodega Head, where there are abundant kelp beds to explore, research, and recreate.

Scientific Divers can receive reciprocity to complete work conducted on SCUBA within the sanctuary and on sanctuary vessels. Please contact the Research Coordinator to facilitate planning research that utilizes SCUBA diving.

Lab Space

The sanctuary does not have formal lab space.  Lab space may be available through partnerships and academic internships:

Point Blue Conservation Science

San Francisco State University-Romberg Tiburon Center

UC Davis-Bodega Marine Lab


The sanctuary does not have accommodations.  One year apartment leases may be available within The Presidio: Presidio Housing

Research Areas

Sanctuary management zones include: Special Wildlife Protection Zones where disturbing marine mammals or seabirds by flying lower than 1000 feet is prohibited, Cargo Vessel Prohibition Areas and White Shark Approach Prohibition Area. Additionally, Motorized Personal Watercraft (commonly known as Jet skis) are prohibited south of Bodega Head.

Other management zones within the sanctuary include: Rockfish Conservation Areas, Essential Fish Habitat, State Marine Protected Areas, Areas of Special Biological Significance, and county, state and federal parks.

Research Symposium and Workshop

In partnership with other marine and estuarine resource protection and management institutions, GFNMS hosts research workshops and symposia. The most recent symposium, Beyond the Golden Gate Research Symposium, was held November 2011, in San Francisco. The 2011 symposium Proceedings includes over 70 abstracts summarizing projects recently completed, in-progress reports, and projects planned to begin in the near future. The abstracts were internally peer-reviewed by co-conveners. This symposium focused on new, on-going and recently completed research, monitoring and habitat characterization projects within the Central Bay, Gulf of the Farallones, Bodega Bay, adjacent estuaries, and Cordell Bank and included studies from multiple disciplines including oceanography, geology, ecology and biology.

The interval between symposia is dictated by the available funding. Each symposium is an opportunity for local managers, researchers, and educators to meet people working in other disciplines and to increase communication and collaboration between researchers, managers, policy makers, and the public.

Data Buoys

A network of buoys that collect real-time data on oceanic conditions have been deployed in and near the Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. Collected parameters include wind speed and direction, wave height, dominant wave period, average wave period, air temperature, water temperature and atmospheric pressure. A listing of these buoys may be accessed from here.

Equipment and Instruments

The sanctuary does not have equipment or instruments available for loan.

Special Considerations

There are no special considerations that researchers need to be aware of at the Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary

Key Documents

Research Needs

Documents that describe the immediate science needs for critical management issues.

Condition Report

The Condition Report is a summary of the status and trend of sanctuary resources, pressures on those resources, and management responses to the pressures that threaten the marine environment.

Management Plan

The GFNMS Management Plan was recently updated in response to the sanctuary expansion. The Management Plan includes species inventories.