The Golden Gate Bridge. Alcatraz Island. These might be iconic...

...but underneath the waters of San Francisco Bay, you find something even more incredible.

Sharks and rays.  And there are plenty of species known to occur in the waters of the Bay Area.

At ORF, we love everything about the oceans.  But, we’ve kinda got a thing for sharks…

Okay, maybe more than just a thing.  We’re obsessed!  

Sharks are part of a larger group of cartilaginous fishes called elasmobranchs, which includes rays and skates (basically a ray without a stinger).  Together, elasmobranchs represent a group of animals as diverse as any other animal group.  From apex predators to plankton-eaters, elasmobranchs play diverse and complex roles in their ecosystem that scientists are still striving to understand.

In summary: sharks are awesome, and we need them.  But there’s still a lot to be learned about the lives of sharks, and we can’t fix something we don’t understand.  


Research is the way forward.

Filling in information gaps. Getting to know the life under the water.

So ORF has set out to get to know the sharks and rays with a research project called “Bay Area Study Elasmobranchs”, or “BASE”.


Bay Area Study Elasmobranchs

Elasmobranchs (sharks and rays) are commonly caught as incidental by-catch by sportfishers.  BASE takes advantage of these incidents by providing an avenue for those out on the water (maybe that’s you!) to collect simple data on shark by-catch and share it, creating a database of Bay-wide elasmobranch information.  

What can we learn from BASE?

We'll learn all about the movement patterns and long-term population trends of common sharks and rays in the bay.  We can use this information to look for correlations with things like fishing pressure, weather patterns, pollution, habitat loss, and food supply fluctuations.  This will help us better understand what factors are having the greatest impacts on sharks and rays in the bay.

Best of all, BASE will give us an opportunity to get local fishermen, party boat captains, and fishing guides involved.  

Because who better to get to know the sharks and rays of the bay than you?  The locals.  The people on the water, day in and day out.  Just like it’s Your Ocean, it’s Your Bay.  No one knows these waters like you do, so why would we leave such a valuable resource untapped?

If you’re spending time out on the water, and seeing or catching sharks and rays, we need your participation.

Participating doesn’t cost you anything extra except a couple more minutes of your time on the boat collecting some easy data on the sharks and rays you’re catching.

Click below to sign up now!  

After we’ve received your contact information, we’ll send you more detailed instructions.  

Check out ORF in action!

Take a gander at photos from past tagging trips.

Click the links to see photos from the past 10 years of shark tagging efforts:


That's not all ORF is up to in the bay!  

We're supporting a Pacific Shark Research Center study on Soupfin Sharks in San Francisco Bay

Our Deputy Director, Vicky, is studying the spatial and temporal distribution of Soupfin Sharks (Galeorhinus galeus) in San Francisco Bay. She finds this work really exciting because the Golden Gate Bridge is a world-recognized icon, yet we don’t have a full understanding of the life below its waters. More so, when many people think about sharks in San Francisco Bay, they often think about Great White sharks (Carcharodon carcharias). Consequently, many of the more common elasmobranch species utilizing the bay go unnoticed. Soupfin Sharks are one such example. In the early 1940s, Soupfins were heavily fished for their livers yet no one has done an assessment on the population within San Francisco Bay since then.  Like BASE, Vicky's research is another pioneering study on the elasmobranchs in San Francisco Bay!  ORF has partnered with Vicky and the Pacific Shark Research Center for this important study, and your donations will help make this research happen.

YOU are a vital part of this research.

Tagging expeditions require a lot of effort and a lot of equipment. We need your help in order to get it.

Click here to see how you can support ORF's research!  We can't do it without you.