In 1985, Dian Hardy and other local activists from Jenner discovered that the harbor seals at Goat Rock State Beach were in greater danger from beach visitors and unleashed dogs than from the pollution of a recent sewage spill into the Russian River. In response to these concerns, they organized shifts on the beach at the river mouth where they educated visitors about the federally protected marine mammals at the beach. This began one of the first Stewards-supported programs, Seal Watch. Today, volunteers supported by Stewards assist the public in safeguarding this local harbor seal habitat, the largest on the Sonoma Coast.
Tasks: Seal Watch volunteers rove Goat Rock Beach at the rookery, located at the mouth of the Russian River via Goat Rock Beach. Volunteers assist in protecting the harbor seals during the busy weekends in the late spring/summer months through interpretation. Park visitors are informed about the harbor seals' identification, natural history, their international protection under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, and overall conservation with the help of a Seal Watcher. Beachgoers from near and far are able to view the animals from a safe distance with help of ropes, signs, and binoculars maintained by Seal Watch volunteers. Read the Seal Watch duty statement for a complete description.
Meeting times: Seal Watchers are stationed at Goat Rock Beach from March through Labor Day. Shifts are each 4 hours on weekends, with the AM shift from 10 AM - 2 PM and the PM shift from 2 PM - 6 PM.
Training and requirements: New volunteers should attend and register for a Seal Watch
training. Volunteers will then shadow experienced volunteers until they feel comfortable manning a shift on their own. To schedule yourself
for a volunteer shift, find the contact information for the appropriate monthly coordinator listed below. Use the calendar to view available
shifts. 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.
Seal Watch Volunteers
Seal Watch Point Person: Greg Armstrong, email or call (707) 228-5429
Equipment Manager: Julie Cross, email or call (707) 889-3155
Contact Monthly Coordinators to schedule or re-schedule a shift:
March:Bill Ruppert, email or call (707) 869-3835
April: Mary Follis, email or call (707) 869-1715
May: Bill Bambrick, email or call (707) 573-9782
June: Check Stewards website
July: Greg Armstrong, email or call (707) 228-5429
August – Labor Day Weekend: Bob Caricato, email or call (707) 829-892
Seal Watch Volunteer Calendar
Calendar Instructions for Volunteers:
- Check the calendar for your scheduled shifts.
- If you need to cancel a shift please call another volunteer to cover your shift AND let the Monthly Volunteer Coordinator know.
- The Monthly Coordinator will update the calendar with the changes.
- Volunteers should re-check the calendar to make sure the changes are accurate.
- Be sure to call your shift partner the week before your shift to confirm.
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.