I’m always stunned by what I find in my own backyard. Living near and commuting across the Bay, I keep stumbling on local treasures — an amazing view of the harbor from Noe Valley, or the Bay Bridge shimmering against the bright lights of rush hour traffic. I’m also discovering that I share a home with some surprising creatures- buffalo in Golden Gate Park, parrots in North Beach, even a river otter in the Sutro Baths.
But most surprising of all to me are the creatures that made their home here before I ever did, disappeared during World War II, stayed away for decades, and then one day, showed up under the Golden Gate Bridge.
San Francisco Bay was once home to harbor porpoises, where they dwelt happily for hundreds of years. But in the early 1940s, they fled the Bay, which had become too dangerous and polluted to call home. Since then, a whole generation of Bay Area folks has grown up here, never knowing that porpoises once lived, played, and thrived right in their backyard. Now, more than 70 years later, they’re coming back.
Why, after all this time, are they returning? Early signs point to better water quality and the overall health of the Bay as the most important factor. So far, nearly 300 porpoises have been spotted under the towers of the Golden Gate Bridge, one of their favorite spots for fishing… and mating.
It’s exciting to think that these porpoises may be the first of many harbor porpoises that make their home in the San Francisco Bay. But the truth is, this is a small and delicate start. There’s still much to be done to improve the water quality of the Bay. If many of us still don’t want to swim in and fish in it, why would a large mammal, sitting at the top of the food chain?
That’s why we’re asking the San Francisco Water Board to help us clean up the Bay, by standing up to the major corporations- like C&H Sugar and Tesoro Refining- who are polluting our backyard and endangering these porpoises. If you want to see even more porpoises coming home to the Bay, tell the San Francisco Regional Water Board to stand up to polluters right now. Better yet, spread the word. Help us reach our goal of 5,000 signatures by Earth Day (April 22nd).
The Bay is such a big part of what makes living here special- why we’re some of the happiest people on the planet. But after suffering years of pollution, shoreline encroachment, and neglect, the Bay is not in the shape it used to be in. And that’s why we’ve launched For The Bay: to bring people like you and me together to reclaim the treasure of our region, the San Francisco Bay –our backyard, our playground, home to diverse creatures, like the harbor porpoises.