Everything You Need to KnowAbout San Francisco's Sea Lions
Get the fast facts on some of San Francisco's most iconic residents, the sea lions of PIER 39.
Ah, San Francisco; where rent is so high that 400-plus sea lions have to share one dock! Since 1990, a colony of California sea lions have camped out in force on PIER 39. They bark, they nap, and in that way they remind us of ourselves. Below are some notable facts about these iconic animals.
Sea lions are not seals, okay?
They get really angry if you confuse them, so it’s best to know the difference. Seals are more streamlined with few protruding body features. Their ears and genitals are tucked inside their bodies so they can glide through the water faster, a tactic they possibly learned from Michael Phelps. Also, sea lions have big fins in front that help them walk. So, if an animal is waddling towards you on flippers and you can see its ears, it’s a sea lion—and you should probably move.
How the heck did they get here?
When two sea lions love each other very much…oh, you mean, “How did they get to San Francisco?" The Sea Lion Center of San Francisco says that they arrived here in 1989. Sea lions do this thing called “hauling out”— and if you didn’t picture sea lions dancing to “Roll Out” by Ludacris, you’re not doing it right. Hauling out is when the animals look for spots to rest and get it on between bouts of swimming and hunting. The sea lion population increased in San Francisco after the Loma Prieta earthquake when people started moving their boats away from the pier, thus leaving more space for the sea lions to hang out.