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The Farallon Islands

In Flat Broke in Paradise, Nick and his mother, accompanied by his friend Jim, sailed thirty miles out the Golden Gate to spread the ashes of Nick's father near the Farallon Islands. On clear days the islands can be seen from the coast. 

The islands were known by the native American tribes, and visited by the Spanish, the British, and New England seal hunters. Russian seal hunters had a sealing station on the islands from 1812 to 1840. By they time they left, the seal population was decimated.

The Farallon Islands U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

lighthouse was constructed in the islands in the 1850s. As San Francisco grew, millions of seabird eggs  from the Common Mure, (a large auk) were collected on the islands.

In 1853, a bizarre "Egg War" broke out between the collecting companies and the lighthouse keepers, which escalated with two rival companies fighting in 1863 and  leaving two men dead. The Pacific Egg Company prevailed and continued egging until the late 1870s. The Federal Government stepped in and removed all egging companies in 1881.

The Common Mure or Common Guillemot Photo: Andreas Trepte,

In January 1951, the highly radioactive hull of the USS Independence was scuttled near the Farallon Islands. The ship was used in Operation Crossroads as a target during two atomic tests at Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands.

USS Independence

Operations Crossroads on the Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands

In 1969 the Farallon Islands became a National Wildlife Refuge.

Aulon Island, Great Arch Rock and Sugarloaf

The Southeast Farallon Islands where research residents live and are housed are the only inhabited islands. Despite its history of plunder and pollution, the islands still have a large concentration of  seabirds, seals, and sea lions as well as migrating albatross, white sharks, orca and humpback whales

The islands are closed to the public.

Learn more about about the Farallon Islands at

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