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California sea lion
Bill Keener

Bill Keener, J.D.

Field Research Associate

My mission is not only to study our local whales, dolphins and porpoises, but to introduce people to this wildlife spectacle in their own ‘backyard’ of San Francisco Bay. Scientific data and public awareness are both critical to ensure that these unique species are given the protections they deserve.

Bill Keener joined The Marine Mammal Center back in the 1970s as an animal care volunteer and later served as Executive Director in the early 1980s. In his current role as a Research Associate on the Center’s Cetacean Field Research Team, he focuses on the study of whales, dolphins and porpoises.

A co-founder of the former nonprofit Golden Gate Cetacean Research, Bill’s career highlights include the first-ever humpback whale and bottlenose dolphin photo-identification catalogs for San Francisco Bay, and a multi-year project to document the return of harbor porpoises to the Bay after an absence of 65 years. His latest scientific publications concern the porpoises’ social and feeding behavior based on observations made from the Golden Gate Bridge. Over the past few years, Bill has also organized a network of citizen scientists to help keep track of whale and dolphin sightings.

Bill’s other research experience includes assisting with the first harbor porpoise census for the Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary in the late 1980s. He has worked as a whale watch naturalist for the Oceanic Society and recently retired from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.


Areas of Expertise

  • Cetacean Research
  • Whales, Dolphins and Porpoises of San Francisco Bay



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