Under the Sea: Life in the Sanctuaries

Elephant Seals on the Farallon Islands

(Image credit: NOAA, Photo Library/Jan Roletto)

The Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary is home to one fifth of California's harbor seals. These marine mammals rely on safe havens within the Sanctuary to haul-out, rest, and breed.

Whale Dolphin

(Image credit: NOAA, Photo Library/Ken Balcomb)

A Norther Right Whale Dolphin off the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary.

Mola Mola

(Image credit: NOAA, Photo Library/Gulf of the Farallones NMS)

A giant ocean sunfish, or mola mola, cruises slowly through the water column. At the surface these unusual-looking fish will sometimes be mistaken for a shark because of their tall dorsal fins.

The Green Sea Turtle

(Image credit: NOAA, Photo Library/Photo: Stan Butler)

The green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas), also known as honu, is the most common sea turtle in Hawaiian waters. It feeds on marine plants in shallow coastal waters throughout the islands and can grow to 200 pounds or more. Sea turtles hold an important role in Hawaiian culture and were prominently represented in ancient Hawaiian mythology and petroglyphs.


(Image credit: NOAA, Photo Library/Joe Heath)

A small octopus hides amid the rocks in a shallow tidepool.

Torpedo Ray

(Image credit: NOAA, Photo Library/Daniel Gotshall)

Torpedo rays (Torpedo californica) are identifiable by their flat gray bodies and black spots. Interestingly these animals catch their prey by stunning them with a jolt!