PIER 39 Celebrates the 28th Anniversary of the Sea Lions’ Arrival

SAN FRANCISCO – (January 19, 2018) – It was a dark and difficult time for San Francisco in the months following October, 1989.  The community was focused on getting back on their feet after the Loma Prieta earthquake rocked the Bay Area.  Then something extraordinary occurred- California Sea Lions began arriving in PIER 39’s Marina.

They came sparingly at first, then soon began arriving in droves, quickly reaching more than 500 in January, 1990.  With a protected environment and a plentiful supply of food from the Bay, the sea lions quickly decided to make PIER 39’s K-Dock their new home.  The PIER 39 Marina staff turned to The Marine Mammal Center for advice about their new slippery guests.  After much research and debate, the experts from The Marine Mammal Center recommended the sea lions be allowed to stay.

The boisterous barking pinnipeds were a much needed bright spot, making local, national and international headlines.  It was truly a phenomenon that brought joy to many.  Fast forward 28 years and these wonderful mammals continue to delight millions of guests annually.

Tune-in to Facebook Live at 11:30am, Friday, January 19, the official date of the very first sea lions’ arrival to PIER 39, and hear the story of how the sea lions landed at PIER 39 and what had to be done to accommodate these massive mammals.  Shelia Chandor, PIER 39’s Harbor Master who was at PIER 39 when the first sea lion appeared, will recount the early days that were filled with confusion, frustration and ultimately, gratefulness and elation. On Friday, January 19, Aquarium of the Bay will celebrate by offering free admission to the first 28 guests who mention “Sea Lion Love” at the front desk of Aquarium of the Bay.  This weekend, January 20 and 21, the public can also celebrate these playful mammals with Sea Lion Encounter walking tours.  These free, 20-minute educational walking tours will end at the Sea Lion Center and will be guided by Aquarium of the Bay naturalists.   Besides learning all about California sea lions, tour participants will also be treated to a free refreshment and a discount to Aquarium of the Bay.

The celebration continues through January 28 with:

  • Sea Lion Center daily programming every half hour from 10:30 am-3:30 pm. Programming includes:
  • Sea Lion Shenanigans
  • Party for the Planet Blue
  • What’s for Lunch?
  • Floatin’ with the Sea Lions of San Francisco
  • While at the Sea Lion Center, grab a heart, write a message and add it to the Sea Lion Love Wall. Share a photo using #lovesealions.
  • Fridays, January 19 and 26, tune-in to Facebook Live from K-Dock at 11:30 am or catch us at K-Dock in person and learn about the life of the California Sea Lions.
  • Saturdays, January 20 and 27, meet PIER 39’s mascot, Salty the Sea Lion, at K-Dock and the Sea Lion Center from 12-3pm.

For a complete list of sea lion events and details, visit www.pier39.com

*All events are weather permitting and subject to change without notice.



For high-resolution photography or video, please contact Anthony Licciardi at (415) 705-5562 or alicciardi@pier39.com.

#                                 #                                 #


PIER 39 is a 45-acre waterfront complex that is a gathering place for millions of San Francisco locals and visitors each year.  The PIER is a two-level open-air marketplace featuring over 110 restaurants, shops and attractions, all surrounded by iconic views of the bay and San Francisco landmarks.  PIER 39 also includes a five-acre waterfront park and 300-berth marina, home to the world famous California sea lions.  An estimated 8-9 million people visit PIER 39 each year, making it the most popular attraction in the region.  PIER 39 is a tenant of the Port of San Francisco.

Aquarium of the Bay

Aquarium of the Bay is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit marine nature center affiliated with bay.org/BayEcotarium.  The Aquarium is dedicated to protecting, restoring and inspiring conservation of San Francisco Bay and its watershed-from the Sierra to the sea.  It is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), and certified as a Green Business by the City of San Francisco.  Located just steps away from the beautiful San Francisco Bay and on the world famous PIER 39, Aquarium of the Bay boasts two magnificent crystal clear acrylic tunnels, holding 700,000 gallons of carefully maintained bay water between them, which is home to approximately 20,000 marine animals.  Additional information on Aquarium of the Bay is available at aquariumofthebay.org, and on Bay Ecotarium at https://bayecotarium.org/.

The Sea Lion Center

The Sea Lion Center, located on Level 2 of PIER 39, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that offers free interpretive programs to compliment one of San Francisco’s most iconic species.  Operated and managed by Aquarium of the Bay, the Sea Lion Center features interactive displays, educational videos, fascinating presentations and one-on-one interactions with naturalists.  Guests can touch real sea lion artifacts including pelts and skulls, and size themselves up next to a life-size sea lion skeleton.  The Sea Lion Center is open daily from 10am – 5pm.  For more information visit:  www.sealioncenter.org.


Media Inquiries contact:            Sue Muzzin (415) 705-5541 / sue@pier39.com
Nora Weber (628)-213-6652 /