PIER 39 Celebrates the 30th Anniversary of the Sea Lions’ Arrival

PIER 39 and Aquarium of the Bay

 Celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the Sea Lions’ Arrival


SAN FRANCISCO, CA – It was a difficult time for San Francisco in the months following October of 1989.  The community was focused on getting back on their feet after the Loma Prieta earthquake rocked the Bay Area.  Then an extraordinary thing happened – California sea lions began hauling out in PIER 39’s Marina.

They came sparingly at first, but soon they were coming in droves, reaching a count of 500 in January of 1990.  With its protected environment and proximity to a plentiful food supply in the Bay, PIER 39’s K-Dock quickly became the new home to this colony.  The PIER 39 Marina staff then turned to The Marine Mammal Center, an organization devoted to the rescue and rehabilitation of marine mammals and to the study of marine mammal health, for advice about their new noisy, slippery and smelly guests.  The decision was to let the sea lions stay at PIER 39.

The boisterous barking pinnipeds were a much-needed bright spot, and to this day they continue to make local, national and international headlines.  Their residency at PIER 39 is truly a natural phenomenon that brings joy to Bay Area locals as well as visitors from around the world. To learn more about the sea lions, visit PIER39.com/sealions.

To commemorate the 30th anniversary of the arrival of the sea lions to PIER 39, thirty six-foot tall Sea Lion Statues painted by thirty local artists, will dot premier spots across San Francisco in late January, where they will remain on display throughout 2020. Conceived by the Smithsonian Affiliated Aquarium of the Bay, Sea Lion Center and jointly implemented with PIER 39, this art installation is part of the largest STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) initiative in California.  For program details visit aquariumofthebay.org.

On January 16, 2020, at the 30th Anniversary Celebration of the sea lions’ arrival at PIER 39, San Francisco Mayor London Breed issued a Proclamation that the date shall now be known as Sea Lions Day in San Francisco.


For high-resolution photography of PIER 39’s sea lions or video, please contact Anthony Licciardi at (415) 705-5562 or alicciardi@pier39.com.  For high-resolution photography of Aquarium of the Bay’s Sea Lion Statues or video, please contact Rebeca Kaplan at (415) 309-5966 or rebeca@bay.org.

Media Inquiries Contact

Sue Muzzin – PIER 39 – (415) 705-5500

Rebeca Kaplan – Aquarium of the Bay (415) 309-5966




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 15 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 / Bay.org (DBA BayEcotarium) is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization with a mission to enable conversations on climate resilience and ocean conservation globally, while inspiring actionable change locally by protection and preservation of the San Francisco Bay and its ecosystems, from Sierra to the Sea™.  The Smithsonian Affiliated Award-winning, Aquarium of the Bay and the Sea Lion Center on The Embarcadero / PIER 39 lead the organization and are visited by millions.