In 2009, Stewards began a partnership with the Sonoma County Water Agency to monitor pinnipeds at or near the Russian River mouth in response to the need for a federal permit for incidental harassment of marine mammals during the activities associated with the requirements of the biological opinion.

The biological opinion (BO) is a 15-year recovery plan to implement the mandates of the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) as they relate to threatened and endangered fish in the Russian River and its tributaries. More information is availabe on the Sonoma County Water Agency website.

Trained citizen monitors are counting seals at numerous locations in and around the Jenner Estuary during breaching activities and during the outlet channel formation that is recommended in the BO. Monthly baseline data collection is also scheduled twice a month.

Tasks: Pinniped monitors collect monitoring equipment at the Jenner Visitor center before their shift begins. With the equipment, they drive to the Jenner overlook and use the data sheets to record information such as weather, wind speed, number of individuals observed, and location of seals. Monitors return the equipment and completed data sheet to the Jenner Visitor Center after completing their shift.

Meeting times: Shifts are 4 hours scheduled twice per month, every month. The date and time varies, with the shift time beginning at 7:30 AM or 11:30 AM. 

Training and requirements: No prior experience is necessary! New volunteers should attend and register for a Pinniped Monitoring training. Volunteers will then shadow experienced volunteers until they feel comfortable on their own. New volunteers are required to attend one General Orientation, and encouraged to attend our affordable seminars to further their education. All new volunteers are required to complete and turn in a hard copy of the CA State Parks DPR 208 paperwork. Read our Volunteer Handbook for more information about becoming a volunteer.  

Volunteer Trainings  

More Information

Contact Kat Rawhouser via email or phone at (707) 869-9177 x 1#. 


Reporting Wildlife Disturbances or Concerns

Email Stewards Staff - report a problem or concern from your shift.

Marine Mammal Center - report abandoned or injured marine mammals.

Wildlife Disturbance Form - Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary form for reporting seabird and marine mammal disturbances. Be sure you understand how to use the form before you fill it out.


Russian River Estuary IHA Report 2014

Russian River Estuary IHA Report 2013

Russian River Estuary IHA Report 2012

Russian River Estuary IHA Report 2011

Russian River Estuary Pinniped Monitoring Plan - Revised 2/2011 - pdf file

Russian River Estuary IHA Report 2010 - pdf file

Russian River Estuary IHA Report Appendices - 4.6 mb pdf file

Federal Registry  IHA Renewal - April 26, 2011

IHA Renewal Package - April 21, 2011 to April 20, 2012

Link to Russian River Estuary Management - Draft EIR - Public comments ended on February 14, 2011


Pinniped Monitoring
The following are documents useful for citizen monitors:

Monitoring Protocols - Jenner - pdf file

Russian River Pinniped Surveys - 2009 to 2012 - pdf file

Marine Mammal Protection Act and Monitoring Program - pdf file

History of the Jenner Seals - pdf file

Estuary Monitoring Program Information - pdf file

Stewards' Scope of Work - pdf file

Incidental Harrassment Authorization from National Marine Fisheries Service - pdf file

Peripheral Monitoring Locations- pdf file

CA Pinniped Presentation - pdf file

CA Pinniped handout

Neonate Indentification - pdf file

Harbor Seal Birthing Photos

Data Sheets and Instructions - pdf files

Volunteer Stipend Form


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