Farallon Institute Annual Report 2017

Research for Healthy Ocean Ecosystems

Dr. Jeffrey Dorman Executive Director

Dr. Jeffrey Dorman
Executive Director


During the summer of 2017, Farallon Institute marched past our 10-year anniversary-- a remarkable feat for any non-profit. We celebrated this milestone quietly in the office and took a moment to think about the goals and mission of Farallon Institute.  Remarkably, the mission statement written 10 years ago by Founder, President, and Senior Scientist Bill Sydeman, remains as true today as it was in 2007.  We continue to be “dedicated to the understanding and preservation of healthy marine ecosystems” and strive to “provide the scientific basis for ecosystem-based management practices and policy reforms consistent with a productive marine world”. 

Farallon Institute had another strong year in 2017.  We produced sound scientific results, published and presented those results in prestigious journals and conferences, and made our work available to management and policy forums.  Farallon Institute continues to be a leader in interdisciplinary marine science that is influential to state and federal fisheries management.  Under the leadership of Julie Thayer, our work on forage fish and its importance for top predator populations continues to be a big part of our research portfolio.  Our long-term seabird datasets provide valuable insight into the impact of climate change on the California Current.  Additionally, we are launching new multi-year initiatives aimed at understanding global ocean productivity and "life in a moving ocean" (supported by NASA), and coming up with the first coastwide krill biomass estimate for California.  These are exciting times.

Farallon Institute has also been working to expand our outreach and education efforts.  We kicked off 2018 with a “State of the Ocean” talk in Petaluma that was attended by over 150 people.  We are aiming to bring this talk to other communities in northern California this year and have six more events scheduled in 2018.  We could not do this work with the support of the larger community:  scientists we collaborate with, the funding agencies who value our work, and individuals who support science and marine conservation. Thank you and we hope to see you at one of our “State of the Ocean” talks later this year.

With warm regards,



Climate and marine ecosystems

Seabird surveys:  315 seabird nests on Alcatraz Island were monitored from March-September. 91 days at sea were logged during CalCOFI and NMFS juvenile rockfish surveys; over 50,000 individual seabirds from 55 species were tallied.

North Pacific biogeography:  Under new funding from NASA, Farallon Institute (in collaboration with Earth Space Research and Sir Alistair Hardy Foundation for Ocean Sciences) is studying the North Pacific Current and its effect on plankton communities.

Saildrone:  Farallon Institute is partnering with Saildrone to pilot an autonomous sailing vehicle from San Francisco to Mexico, examining the variability in krill populations along the continental shelf.

Left: Saildrone autonomous sailing vehicle and the Golden Gate Bridge. Right: Brandt's cormorant on Alcatraz Island.


Forage & Fisheries Management

Anchovy studies:  Anchovy research continues to focus on understanding and predicting population dynamics and age structure relative to ocean climate.

Herring Fisheries Management Plan:  We developed options for San Francisco Bay herring fisheries management in relation to ecosystem considerations for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.  This work was done in collaboration with SeaChange Analytics.

Antarctic Marine Protected Areas:  We used an ecosystem model to understand the potential of ocean warming, fishing, and alternative management strategies to impact Antarctic krill, their predators, and the krill fishery there.  Results deliver scientific advice for current and future international policy decisions in the region, constituting a direct link between cutting-edge science and on-the-ground management strategies.

Krill acoustics:  Over 6,000 miles of coastal ocean in the California Current were surveyed for krill, extending our time series to 18 years.  Funding was secured to convert krill estimates to a biomass index to better inform management efforts.

Krill Camera:  An autonomous camera was deployed on Cordell Bank in 85 m of water for four months.  Analysis of images is currently underway and redeployment is planned in March 2018.


Education and Outreach

State of the Ocean:  We presented the "State of the Ocean" to the Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary advisory body and laid the groundwork for multiple talks in early 2018.

Social media:  Expanded and launched Farallon Institute social media accounts.

Left: Sea surface temperature image showing the extent of the 2014-2015 Marine Heat Wave, from Gentemann et al. 2017 Geophysical Research Letters. Right: Heather Robinson and Bill Sydeman at the 2017 Pacific Seabird Group Annual Meeting in Tacoma, Washington.

accomplishments By the Numbers

  • 15 papers published in the peer-reviewed literature
  • 3 technical reports published
  • 5 papers in press
  • 4 conferences or symposia attended
  • 3 invited presentations given
  • 10 oral presentations given
  • 2 posters presented

Financials: January - December, 2017

Farallon Institute continued to experience steady growth in 2017.  Income and Expenses both came in around $800,000; we have 11 members on our team, 8 of whom are full-time employees, and all of them have advanced degrees.  Our support sources and expenditures break-down have essentially stayed similar to previous years.



We could not accomplish our research without the support of government agencies, private foundations, and individuals committed to work.  Thank you.

Marisla Foundation
The Pew Charitable Trusts
National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy
SunLight Time Foundation
Strong Foundation

Federal and State Agencies
National Park Service
Office of Naval Research
National Science Foundation
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
United States Geological Survey
Southern California Ocean Observing System

Gulf of the Farallons Level > $500
Tom Baudendistel & Lisa Kinoshita
Adam Bauserman
Bill & Kia Conn
Courtney & Jeff Dorman
Harry & Jo Dorman
Bahman Rabii

Individual Donors
California Current Level > $1000
Chelle Gentemann
Heather Haggarty & Jon Levine
Hope Millholland
Ann & Bob Phillips
Spencer Seidman
Richard Thayer

Volunteers and Supporters
Tanner Boeger
Laura Burgess
Chris Carney
Tien Chang
Kate Ciungan
Leah Drapkin
Rick Johnston
Joey Kolasinsky
Ron LeValley
Sherie Michaile
Emma Roach


Cordell Bank Level > $100
Glen Boehm & Mozhgan Mizban
Ruth Dietrich
Tony Freicas & Sandy Profeta
Richard & Janis Kinoshita
Dominic Mantua
Curt Mason
John Raff
Kathleen & Vern Winters