Celebrating 30 Years of Sea Lions at PIER 39

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.

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Where are all the sea lions you may be asking?  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.

THE SEA LION STORY

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

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.

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 1,701 in November 2009.

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.

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 flaps—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.

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.