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The Devil’s Teeth

By Linda Tancs

Once known as “the devil’s teeth” due to its treacherous and steep, rocky shoreline, the Farallon Islands (named for the Spanish farallón, meaning a rocky sea pillar) is a National Wildlife Refuge and home to the largest colony of nesting seabirds in the contiguous United States. Located 30 miles west of the Golden Gate Bridge in California, the Refuge comprises four groups of small islands: Southeast Farallon, North Farallons, Middle Farallon and Noonday Rock. Given the sensitivity of the avian and mammalian community living there, the islands are not open to the public, and only Southeast Farallon (a research station) is accessible by boat. Nonetheless, year-round tours operate out of San Francisco to the southeast quadrant, offering wildlife enthusiasts the chance to gawk at whales and substantial populations of sea lions, northern elephant seals, tufted puffins and some of more than 400 species of birds recorded there.

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