For nearly 200 years, Spanish navigators sailed the Manila galleons from Acapulco, northward past the unseen Golden Gate of San Francisco Bay, to Cape Mendocino whence they turned westward across the Pacific. It was not until 1769 that European explorers and "men of God" discovered the Bay, not from the sea by entering the Golden Gate, but from a hill to the south.
This paper, dated 1979, provides an appealing and broad coverage of the early history of naturalistic study of the Bay, and of the Bay's abuses at the hand of modern man. This goes with me on the plane. Here's one of the earlier pioneers, Grove Karl Gilbert:
[caption id="attachment_43" align="alignright" width="234" caption="From the PDF."][/caption]