Discover the Aquarium of the Bay's Sea Lion Center at Pier 39
While PIER 39 is known for its abundance of bay-view restaurants and souvenir shops, perhaps its most prized inhabitants are the California sea lions. Learn all about these vocal and playful marine creatures at the Sea Lion Center, a dedicated nature center overlooking the sea lions’ hangout on PIER 39’s K-Dock.
Located on level 2 of the PIER 39 and operated by Aquarium of the Bay, the Sea Lion Center offers free admission to interactive displays, educational videos and opportunities to interact with aquarium naturalists. The adjacent viewpoint above K-Dock gives the best views of this colony of charismatic mammals.
The Sea Lion Center helps visitors understand the role of sea lions in the San Francisco Bay ecosystem, the steps taken to protect the creatures and what everyone can do to help the animals survive in their threatened habitat. Guests can touch real sea lion artifacts, including pelts and skulls, and size themselves up next to a life-size sea lion skeleton and a giant white shark replica. Information about various pinnipeds (fin-footed, semiaquatic marine animals) that live all over the world is also displayed at the center.
The beloved sea lions mysteriously settled at the K-Dock in 1990 and have called PIER 39 home ever since. The number of sea lions that occupy the dock varies by season, but the population hit a record of 1,701 slippery creatures in 2009.
Discover why they came to K-Dock, where they go when they leave, what their behavior like sticking their noses in the air or lifting a flipper means, what kind of diseases they get, and the environmental challenges they encounter.
The Aquarium of the Bay and PIER 39 are conveniently located along the San Francisco Bay waterfront, where the Embarcadero meets Beach Street, and adjacent to Fisherman's Wharf. The PIER is easily accessible via San Francisco Muni's historic F-Line street car or the 8X, 8BX, 39, or 47 bus lines. San Francisco's famous cable car lines also drop off a few short blocks from The PIER.