Sea Lions of San Francisco’s Pier 39

Fisherman’s Wharf
Sea Lions!

IMG_5337IMG_5338IMG_5339IMG_5341IMG_5342IMG_5344Sick Sea Lion


I took a trip to San Francisco for the big Game Developers Conference. I was able to do some sightseeing while I was there, and got to see the famous Sea Lions of Fisherman’s Wharf. It was amazing to see so many of them! If you watched the movie I uploaded on top, you can hear what they sound like. I think I stood there for almost an hour just watching them. It was amusing to see how they interact with each other, how they scratch themselves (so dainty!), and how they move around. I read on a plaque at Fisherman’s Wharf that the Sea Lions mostly likely came to Pier 39 because of the earthquake in 1989. The boat owners were forced to remove their boats from that area for safety precautions after the earthquake. While the boats were away, the sea lions took advantage of that area since it had a good food source and a protected environment. Ever since then, they have been coming to Pier 39 and staying there. Their numbers fluctuate, but there is always a steady population of sea lions on the floating docks. This area has become a big tourist location, but the sea lions are still protected under San Francisco’s Marine Mammal Center.

While I was there watching the sea lions, I spotted a sea lion on the closest dock to me, and it was terribly sick looking. There were flies buzzing around it, and it had a large infected patch of skin that was oozing puss. I noticed that there a small pool of vomit near the sea lion, and that is what also confirmed my suspicions that the sea lion was sick. None of the other sea lions were laying next to it, and it would roll over very rarely. Its eyes were shut most of the time. I felt so sad for that sea lion. I thought, since these sea lions are bringing a crowd of tourist and their wallets to the area, somebody has to care if one of them gets sick. They don’t want their star attraction to die off. I happen to near by one of the volunteers of the Mammal Center, and reported the sick sea lion to her. She took note and explained to me what the Mammal Center does. The center will save and heal sea lions were affected by trash. The cause of sea lion death in the San Francisco area was not by boat accidents, which I assumed, but by trash. Sometimes the sea lions will swim into wire, tires, or some other man made object. It would prevent the sea lion from being able to eat or get an infection from the trash damaging their body.

I was horrified to see the pictures of the inflicted sea lions, but I was considerably happy to hear that there was a community of people and veterinarians watching over these guys. She also had a page in her binder which had samples of sea lion fur. It was sooooo smooth. I didn’t ask where they got the samples, since it was real fur, but I had a feeling it was from sea lions who didn’t survive. Even though they were dead, their fur was being used to educate humans about how amazing they are, and make people aware how precious these creatures are.

It was a fun place to be and I would love to go back again. 🙂


5 thoughts on “Sea Lions of San Francisco’s Pier 39

  1. Cool! I didn’t have a chance to do any snooping around in SF after the conference was over, but I did get a chance to see these 3 years ago the first time I went to GDC. I was hiking to this lighthouse on the other side of the Golden Gate Bridge so I didn’t get to see them so closely, much less notice any health issues they were having. It’s sad to see them sick but good to know it’s not going unnoticed!

  2. i went to Alaska a few years back to go fishing for Halibut and while while we were out on the boat we rode by a rocky shore where a bunch of sea lions were just laying around and i remember thinking to myself “wow those sea lions look so stupid sitting on each other” then they started to get angry with each other and fight. it was funny.

  3. Thats really swell that they continue to let the sea lions come back every year, and that they dont see it as a nuisance that would drive people away from the area due to smell or noise. And the fact that its the opposite, its become a tourist area to view some of the cutest sea mammals.

  4. I never liked sea lions but this just made me appreciate them that little bit more. 🙂
    Its sad that trash is whats making thin this sick..Its horrible what Humans do to this earth and especially to the ocean…i wish people were more considerate to other species and their environment and especially not litter..Because i mean just by throwing a candy wrapper on the ground can lead to something tragic like what happened to that poor sea lion.

  5. sea lions are so cute, so now im happy i know about this attraction – for when i go to SF for the first time. i can see how all the pollution and traffic is not very nice for them, but it’s nice to think someone cares and that so many people come to see them relax on the pier.

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