California Sea Lions at PIER 39

The Sea Lion Story & Live webcam

A few California sea lions began “hauling out” on PIER 39’s K-Dock shortly after the Loma Prieta earthquake hit San Francisco in October 1989. By January 1990, the boisterous barking pinnipeds started to arrive in droves and completely took over K-Dock, much to the exasperation of PIER 39’s Marina tenants.

The Marina Staff turned to The Marine Mammal Center, an organization devoted to the rescue and rehabilitation of marine mammals, for advice about their new slippery tenants. After much debate and research, the experts from The Marine Mammal Center recommended that the sea lions stay in their newfound home.

Original footage of the sea lions’ 1990 arrival to PIER 39

With a plentiful supply of food from the Bay and an environment protected from predators, the PIER 39 Marina proved to be an ideal living situation for the sea lions. Within a few short months, the number of sea lions grew to more than 300 and hit an all-time record of over 2,100 in May-June of 2024

While the number of sea lions at K-Dock rise and fall with the seasons, available food supply and natural migration patterns, the world famous sea lions always have a home at PIER 39.

LIVE Sea Lion Webcam

To view the Sea Lion LIVE webcam, press the “GO LIVE” button. From there, you can press “Control” to choose a position, snap a screenshot, pause it or enter a full-screen mode. Please contact HD Relay for any technical issues related to the camera presentation at

K-Dock map

Fun Facts About Sea Lions

  • California sea lions are known for their intelligence, playfulness and noisy barking.
  • Although they usually avoid humans, sea lions may bite if provoked.
  • Male sea lions reach 850 lbs (390kg) and 7 ft (2. 1m) in length, while females can reach 220 lbs  (110kg) and up to 6 ft (1. 8m) in length.
  • You can distinguish males from females: males develop a bump or “crest” on their heads at four or five years of age. A majority of the sea lions at  PIER 39 are male.
  • Sea lions have external ear aps—seals do not.
  • Sea lions in the wild may live up to 25 years.
  • Sea lions migrate to areas across the Pacific Coast, from Vancouver to the southern tip of Baja. Most pups are born on the Channel Islands, located off Southern California, in June.
  • California sea lions are protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act. It is unlawful for  unauthorized persons to feed, handle or harass them.
  • One of the biggest dangers to sea lions today is becoming entangled in plastic pollution.