(Photo courtesy Pier 29)

(Photo courtesy Pier 29)

Pier 39 celebrates 27 years of sea lions

Another year has gone by for the sea lions at Pier 39, who moved in to their popular hangout near Fisherman’s Wharf way back in January, 1990. The pinnipeds began “hauling out” (emerging from the Bay to hang on the docks) shortly after the Loma Prieta earthquake, much the chagrin of local Marina residents. The 70-foot docks that they lounge on today were originally meant for fishing boats, but the 500-pound sea mammals took matters into their own hands (or flippers).

“They’re here by choice,” Sheila Chandor, Pier 39’s harbor master, told the Examiner. “Sometimes we get tourists saying, ‘When do you let them out?’ We have to say, ‘This is a natural event that occurred.’ We got one, and then a few more came. Within two months we were up to 600. It was an incredible acceleration.”

Today, they’re one of San Francisco’s most popular tourist attractions, and life around the docks has changed with their presence. Harbor workers now have to wash down their decks, and occasionally rescue injured sea lion pups with the help of the Marine Mammal Center.

An in-depth look into the why and how of the sea lions’ settlement can be found in our article from last year.

To celebrate the sea lions, Pier 39 is hosting free 20-minute educational walking tours led by Aquarium of the Bay naturalists from Jan. 20 to 22. Tour participants will also be treated to hot cocoa and coffee, discounts at participating PIER 39 businesses, a 2-hour parking validation for the PIER 39 Parking Garage, and special exhibits from Aquarium of the Bay and The Marine Mammal Center.  Tours depart at 12pm, 1pm, 2pm and 3pm each day from the Sea Lion Statue west of the PIER 39 Entrance Plaza.Fisherman's WharfMarine Mammal Centerpier 39San Francisco Baysea lions

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