San Francisco’s Famous Sea Lion Hangout! Sea Lions Take Over A Pier!

Want To Hang Out With Some Friendly Sea Lions?

Well, who doesn’t? It’s very easy to do on the west coast of the US – there are a lot of places to see them in the wild – including in the heart of San Francisco!

Welcome to Pier 39!

San Francisco’s legendary piers are full of unique adventures and surprises – everything from crab and shrimp cocktails at Fisherman’s Wharf, all the way south to The Ferry Building, which houses amazing restaurants and shops…in between, there is a terrific place to drop in and see some sea friends…

It all happens just a few doors down from San Francisco’s famed Fisherman’s Wharf, at Pier 39 – very unassuming, as you can see from this picture of my wife Alex and her sister Lauren:

We were walking north towards the Wharf when we noticed the action in the water and headed over for a closer look…of course, I had to get a picture of them getting that closer look:

Here is the official history of the Sea Lions hangout, as posted by the Pier 39 website:

“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.

California sea lions are known for their intelligence, playfulness and noisy barking.
Although they usually avoid humans, sea lions may bite if provoked.”

Well, we weren’t going to do that, but here is a video showing two of them getting into a bit of a tussle…nothing too serious, just some posturing:

So there you have it – walk out onto the pier and watch hundreds of them play around…here is some more video of their activity – playful, noisy, and if you get too close, a bit smelly too:

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.

Oh, and since you are out on the pier, look north and you will see Alcatraz Island:

Once you’ve seen the sea lions, and then imagined escaping from Alcatraz by swimming across San Francisco bay, it’s time to drive across the bay – yes, over the Golden Gate bridge, just so you can pull off at the lookout spot and take this picture:

Yes, it’s a perfect shot of the bridge, and a perfect way to end the day in a great city!

If you travel north a few hours from San Francisco, you come across one of California’s iconic tourist destinations:

It’s the drive-thru Chandelier tree – and we did squeeze our Prius through it, but it’s more fun to walk through…see more pictures here:

Drive a few hours north and you can end up on Oregon’s magnificent coast!

We did this as well – it really is worth taking a few days and seeing the left coast of the US, beginning in San Francisco…here is our trip:

Let me know if you’ve hung out with San Francisco’s Sea Lions!

Categories: Art, Books / Media, documentary films, Exotic Travel, Memoirs, Restaurants, Travel, Travel Adventures, Travel Memoir, Uncategorized, Wacky Food

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9 replies

  1. A friend who visited SF was impressed by the number of sea lions, but not by their smell. It seems that everyone agrees it is a pretty smelly experience!
    Best wishes, Pete.

  2. Looks like a great trip! We were on Fisherman’s Wharf back in 2008. The seals are definitely a smelly bunch! We visited Glass Beach in Fort Bragg on the same trip. We love Northern California.

  3. Great pictures! I love San Francisco and Fisherman’s Wharf and the waterfront is the best!


  1. Walking Up Coit Tower! Alfred Hitchcock Loved San Francisco’s Iconic 400-Step Tower! – johnrieber
  2. Monterey’s Amazing Aquarium! Magical Jellyfish! Circling Sardines At Cannery Row! A REALLY BIG Fish! – johnrieber
  3. You CAN “Escape From Alcatraz”! San Francisco’s Greatest Prison – “The Rock!” – Is Open To The Public! – johnrieber

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