Sea Lions of Pier 39—Now you see them; now you don’t

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Sea Lions at San Francisco’s Pier 39 (Photo © Pier 39)

They’re noisy, smelly, half-tons of blubber—and we love them. Sea lions first invaded Pier 39 in 1989, probably chasing after an abundant run of tasty herring, or possibly attracted by the beautiful, newly refurbished docks. Encouraging the sea lions to leave is illegal, and twenty years later their numbers had swollen to more than 1700.

But sea lions are both migratory and mysterious, and their numbers fluctuate dramatically and inexplicably. At the end of 2009, nearly all had left; recently, they have begun to return. Here’s a Pier 39 sea lion cam, so you can check the current status.

The Aquarium of the Bay and the Marine Mammal Center have collaborated to provide on-site (K-Dock on Pier 39) interpretive naturalists to answer visitors’ questions about marine mammals daily from 11 am to 5 pm.

Did you know: About 300,000 sea lions live along the California coast.

SF Waterfront Editors Recommend:

Folkmanis Sea Lion Puppet—Who could resist a face like this, with those big beautiful eyes? Add in the super soft plush body, and this little Sea Lion hand puppet–with its easy-to-move mouth and head–is a “hands-down” winner. The folks at Folkmanis Puppets believe that imagination is the key to a healthy childhood, encouraging play and discovery to develop the skills necessary in life. They’ve been making innovative puppets since 1976, winning countless industry, child development, and kid-tested awards in the process. This sea lion is 16″ long, 10″ wide, 9″ high, and weighs 8 ounces. About  $26. Learn more about or buy Folkmanis Sea Lion Puppet.

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