New program teaches visitors about Pier 39's sea lions

Carrie Chen, director of education and conservation for the Aquarium of the Bay helped launch the new ambassador program for California Sea Lions at Pier 39.

What is the ambassador program and how does it work?

[The ambassadors] are down at K dock — which is where the sea lions are — from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day to answer questions and provide information. They’ll also do small talks every 15 minutes. It’s an extension of the program that the Marine Mammal Center started when the sea lions began to haul onto Pier 39.

What is the most common question ambassadors are asked?

Visitors think the sea lions are not wild. Because of how the marina is situated, you don’t see the opening in the greater San Francisco Bay, so some visitors think they’re captive. But really, the sea lions are hanging out there because it’s a great place to live.

The sea lions disappeared for a period of time. What happened?

It was pretty unusual when they all of a sudden left. We think it had to do with the herring population, their food source, so they had to go elsewhere for food. But, they’re back at Pier 39.

Is this program in response to their return?

It’s something we had in the works for a while and then they swam away. Now, we’re able to get the ball rolling, especially for the summer months since we have so many visitors to Pier 39.

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