Sea Lions at Pier 39
Don’t forget to stop by and see these guys playing. My friends and I had so much fun sitting there and watching these guys play and fight for the right to be the king of the hill. The population tends to swell and shrink with the seasons. Some of these sea lions have been spotted all the way up in Oregon! That’s quite a distance to travel. According to the research I was doing they are not quite sure why the population changes so much.
California sea lions have always been present in San Francisco Bay. They started to haul out on docks of Pier 39 in September 1989. Before that they mostly used Seal Rock for that purpose. Ever since September 1989 the number of sea lions on Seal Rock has been steadily decreasing, while their number on Pier 39 has generally increased. Some people speculate that sea lions moved to docks because of the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, but the earthquake occurred months after the first sea lions had arrived at Pier 39. It is likely that the sea lions feel safer inside the Bay.
Although fluctuations in the number of sea lions at Pier 39 are dramatic, as many as 1,701 (Thanksgiving Week, 2009) have been officially reported at one time, many of whom are recognizable to researchers and others, and some of whom have been unofficially named. Volunteers and staff at The Marine Mammal Store and Interpretive Center monitor the sea lion population each day, and educational information is provided to tourists who visit from around the world. Scientists continue to collect information there, adding to knowledge about sea lion health, dietary habits, and behavior. In November 2009 the more than 1,701 (Thanksgiving Week, 2009) sea lions that had lived at the pier began to leave, and by late December 2009 nearly all were gone; a similar flux in population occurs annually, with the animals returning in the spring. Although the reason for their seasonal appearance and departure is not known for certain, according to Jeff Boehm, executive director of the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, “Most likely, they left chasing a food source,” anchovies and sardines. A handful of sea lions did return in February, and by late May several hundred could once again be seen on Pier 39. It remains unknown exactly where they went and why. However, in December 2009, nearly 4,000 sea lions that were identified as members of the California sub-species were seen outside Oregon’s Sea Lion Caves, suggesting that they were likely the sea lions from Pier 39.
Some of the above information is from Wikipedia.