Pier 39 Sea Lions-Still There! (31DBBB-Day 13)

Okay, so I’m really behind on this challenge. I’ve been on vacation, so I’ve either been too busy or too tired to compose a post. Then I read this day’s task…to go to a mall. That was a bit difficult to do, but ProBlogger suggested if a mall wouldn’t work, visiting a tourist attraction would work. And yesterday was a great day for that. We went to San Francisco and the Fisherman’s Wharf. This is an excellent place for people watching and observations. But what was most interesting to me, and frankly just plain cool, were the famous sea lions that live on the docks at Pier 39.

Sea lions have always been in the San Francisco Bay, but it wasn’t until September of 1989 that they began to appear on the docks. There’s no definitive reason why the sea lions brought themselves to the docks. Many believe that it was because of the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989. The idea that the animals might feel safer more inland is another theory. Whatever the reason for their appearance at Pier 39, they have become a fascination for tourists and scientists alike.

Then in the late fall and winter of 2009 the sea lions, who have numbered as high as 1,700, suddenly left their touristy home. Most scientists agree that this occurred because of a lack of food. This large group of Eumetopias Jubatus (that’s their scientific name, who are members of the marine mammal Otariidae family) migrated all the way up to Oregon. As mysteriously as they disappeared, they started to reappear in February of this 2010. Merchants were quite happy about this, since these pinnipeds (I’m rockin’ the official names) really draw the tourists to the pier. Now that they are back, the goal is to educate the tourists about these special animals and their part in the northern California ecosystem.

I’m not sure what I expected to see as my family and I made our way down the windy Pier 39 (Side note: San Francisco weather is unpredictable. In early August, it was cold and windy. Be prepared for any weather eventuality). What I saw was amazing! These massive marine mammals (nice alliteration, huh?) were all huddled together, resting, seemingly a comfort to each other. A couple were causing some trouble, arguing a bit. Others barked back, as if telling them to quiet down. What I also saw was a very close-knit community who sticks together and looks out for its members. Could we humans learn something from these sea lions?

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