The sea lions camped out in PIER 39′s West Marina have been endearingly coined The PIER’s “Sea Lebrities.” The boisterous pinnipeds started arriving in droves in January 1990, shortly after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. At first they numbered from 10-50, but due to a plentiful herring supply, available dock space and the marina’s protected environment, the population grew to more than 300 within a few months.
Each winter, the population can increase up to 900 sea lions, most of which are male. During the summer months, the sea lions migrate south to the Channel Islands for breeding season, but in recent years a small group stays year-round at PIER 39′s K-Dock.
Click here to learn more about the sea lions and watch them live on our Sea Lion Webcam.
Where have the sea lions gone?
During the summer months, it is not uncommon to see few or no sea lions at PIER 39’s K-Dock. California sea lions travel south to give birth and breed on offshore island rookeries, ranging from Southern California’s Channel Island south to Mexico. All sea lions share the instinct to return to rookery islands during this time. However, some non-breeding animals will linger along the coast. The first pups are born by May 25th and the breeding season is over by July 20th. Adult females often remain near rookeries year-round, whereas males and juvenile females move north after the breeding season. The number of sea lions at PIER 39 typically increases after the first week of August.
Want to learn more about the world famous sea lions?
The Sea Lion Center, operated and managed by Aquarium of the Bay, is a hub for all things sea lion, including interactive displays, educational videos and many fascinating presentations led by Aquarium of the Bay Naturalists. Touch a sea lion pelt, size yourself up next to a real sea lion skeleton and more. Click here for more information.
Naturalists from Aquarium of the Bay will be at K-Dock daily from 11am-4pm (weather permitting).