Tag Archives: sea lions

The 25th Anniversary of the “Sea Lebrities” of Pier 39

IMG_8973One of my favorite things to do while I am in San Francisco is to see the sea lions at Pier 39. Since Katie and I were at Fisherman’s Wharf for lunch we took the short walk to check them out. We walked over to the end of the pier or K dock where the sea lions can be seen.

The sea lions, now often called the “Sea Lebrities” of Pier 39, started arriving in January of 1990 after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. At first there were only 10-50, but quickly their numbers grew to over 300 within a few months. Today, the numbers reach over 900 in the winters, many of which are male.

Early on San Francisco became aware that their “Sea Lebrities” could be a problem for Pier 39. The sea lions were overtaking the dock space and making it too dangerous for the boaters to dock their boats safely. San Francisco decided to make and dedicated docks specifically for the sea lions. Once they did the sea lions quickly realized this space was for them and there hasn’t been an issue since.

The marina’s protected environment with its plentiful dock space and it’s bountiful supply of herring is the main draw to the sea lions. When Katie and I arrived we could immediately see that it was their 25th Anniversary. As we got closer we read signs posted by the Sea Lion Center that the males migrate south during the summer months. There were 4 on the day we were there. These four had decided not to take the trek south to mate for one reason or another. Two of them were slightly skinny, but very active males and the other two were even younger, still fuzzy, less alert males. One of younger ones looked as though he had been bitten by a shark.

We headed up to the Sea Lion Center to ask about the poor little guy that had been bitten. Of course they knew about him and were watching him and monitoring his recovery. The rescue team had been contacted, but only intervene when it is a man-made issue. Everyone was hoping and praying he would make it and while it sucked and he was definitely having a bad day I was told that his wound looked like it was healing nicely and they all thought he would make it. The Sea Lion Center’s employees were a little happy though to see his wound. To them it meant the Bay was healthy and there were sharks in the area.

We took a few more minutes exploring the center. Feeling the different seal and sea lions’ fur, looking a pictures, learning where different seals and sea lions live, and a little about sharks their main predator. They even have a life-sized skeleton right when you walk in the door and sea lions and a shark hanging from the ceiling. And the best part is that it is all free. Free to see the sea lions at the end of the pier and free to take a few minutes to walk through the Sea Lion Center. But don’t forget to donate a few dollars to them so they can continue to do amazing work helping to save our marine life.

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Children’s Pool at La Jolla

10689657_10100780446206797_8506605576137678151_nEver want to get up close and personal with some harbor seals and sea lions? I know whenever I see them on TV swimming around I think to myself, ‘Wow, those are ocean dogs!’ They just swim and play without a care in the world. So short of going to an aquarium and paying big bucks for a sea lion encounter or learning to surf or SUP and hoping you come across one in the wild, which I must say does happen from time to time, where is a perfect place for you to go to check them out? The Children’s Pool in La Jolla, CA.

The Children’s Pool was constructed in 1932 to shield the shore from oncoming waves. It became the perfect setting for children to paddle out into the ocean safely, being protected by the new seawall, and an ideal spot for seals to bathe, bask in the sun, and give birth to their young. As the years have past swimming is still allowed, but highly discouraged due to the water quality condition concerns and there have been much controversy as whether to we should preserve the beach for marine life or the children.

10942654_10100780446795617_3237398606227234284_nI stumbled upon The Children’s Pool without even planning it. The goal was to check out La Jolla so I typed it into my iPhone maps and it dropped me off right in the heart of one of the best experience yet! I didn’t even know it until I parked my car and walked over to the sidewalk fence to look at the ocean. I looked down and to my surprise I was standing right above a cliff where people were getting about 5 ft or less from harbor seals and sea lions. I snapped a few shots on my phone and walked further down the way to the entrance.

I briefly scanned the sign, ‘Do NOT approach the seas and sea lions,’ and hurried down the path. It was quite slick from the rain earlier that day, but I managed to shuffle my way to the bottom where everyone else was. And then I was there, face to face with one of the most magnificent animals ever. Two sea lions watched over the group as the rest slept. They were so stoic, standing there poised like statues, barely moving. The ocean waves crashing behind them only added to the beauty. Wow, now this is what I call an adventure!

There were young pups and older ones all scattered around. They blended into the rock and as I moved away from the two on watch I almost stepped on another laying near by. He barked at me and I shifted away. Sorry.

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It started to sprinkle again and it was getting dark so I headed back to the street. On the way I stopped to talk to a photographer. He was taking stunning photos of the cove with long exposures which gave the water this amazing frosted effect. Seeing the pictures he was taking made me long for a better camera and tripod. Maybe next time. I continued down the coastline checking out the rest of La Jolla. This was starting out to be a wondrous trip!

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