10/10/12 - posted by Paul Judge

The Richmond District blog has posted great photos of a River Otter taken by local photographer David Cruz. "River Otter has been visiting Sutro Baths ruins"

Friend Brian Hildebidle who works for the Presidio Trust and is involved in the restoration of Mountain Lake has seen this critter or one of its kin along Lobos Creek. Staff at the Lands End Lookout have also observed the individual depicted in the photos by Mr. Cruz.

Speculation would be that it either came swimming over from the Marin side of the Gate or meandered north along beach shore or via peninsula golf courses, Lake Merced, Stern Grove/Pine Lake, Sunset Boulevard, Golden Gate Park, possibly maybe Muni fast pass?

Volunteering this summer as a docent interpreter at the Lands End Lookout Visitor Center I've regularly observed bottle nose dolphin swimming off Ocean Beach, Lands End and towards the Gate. Harbor porpoise, much harder to see due to their small size, are sighted frequently both inside the Bay and along offshore waters.

Since mid summer I've been seeing single and up to three humpback whales at a time off the Golden Gate adjacent Lands End and meandering the main shipping channel. Unlike gray whales, which can regularly be seen close to shore during their annual winter - spring migration, sightings of humpback whales close to shore in our local waters is much less likely. It's been noted among long time local surfers that in the last decade there have been far more sightings on a regular basis of dolphin than were in evidence 3, 4, and 5 decades ago.

Last Sunday about 2:30PM I observed a single adult humpback whale breaching 5 times just off Point Bonita Lighthouse. Such a sight is very thrilling. Over the course of half an hour this individual continued to amble towards the GG Bridge and continued into the Bay near the South Tower. At the same time the Fleet Week Air show was in high action overhead and the Bay was littered with yachts and small craft jockeying around.

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