A sea mammal’s reign of terror in the waters of Aquatic Park appears to be over, according to park rangers and marine experts.
Swimmers first reported attacks from a biting baby seal that drew blood from three of its victims on Nov. 13. The mammal resurfaced again two days later, attacking nine more swimmers. None of the injuries were considered to be life-threatening,but the attacks forced the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park, which overseas the water park near Pier 39, to close down the popular swimming destination for a week.
After an extensive search to capture the perpetrator proved fruitless, the waters are being reopened to the 200 swimmers who brave its chilly waves everyday.
However, members from the Dolphin Swim Club and the South End Rowing Club had continued to swim in the water despite the park’s ban, according to Terry Ellison, who swims in the park at least three times a week.
“People have been swimming the park since last week and no one seems to be bothered by it,” he said. “We have just gone on with our business. You know something could happen but if that stopped you, you never would get in the water in the first place.”
Park rangers and marine biologists monitored the sea animals going in and out of the swim park, which is home to several open water swims a year and is also the ending point for the Escape from Alcatraz race, for the past week. Marine Mammal Center spokesman John Cunnane said there were no attacks since the baby seal was seen Wednesday by swimmers.
Jim Oswald, also of the Marine Mammal Center, said the animal might have just moved on. He said adult male sea lions are migrating north to Washington and Oregon this time of year while the females are down south taking care of their young. He said there was a similar case last year in which a sea lion attacked a woman in Berkeley, and after a few days of not getting food from fishermen, it moved up north.
“It sounds like maybe with this animal, it’s just that” he said. “It was just hanging out for a little bit and moved on or it’s maybe laying low around Pier 39 or moved on up north.”