Jun 6, 2024 - News

Record 2,100 sea lions spotted at San Francisco docks

Photo of hordes of sea lions lying on piers

Sea lions sunbathe on the docks. Photo: Claire Reilly/Axios

The summer season has ushered in a record number of sea lions at San Francisco's docks.

State of play: Pier 39's Marina team counted over 2,100 sea lions on the docks as of Tuesday — handily beating the previous record of about 1,700 in November 2009, Pier 39 spokesperson Anthony Licciardi told Axios via email.

  • "We believe it is the abundance of anchovy," their favorite food source, that attracted them in droves, Licciardi added.

Claire's thought bubble: Every inch of available dock space was packed with slippery, barking sea lions.

  • You could hear the sound the steady cacophony of "Arf! Arf! Arf!" all the way from the street, and it grew louder as you reached the pier.
  • It reminded me of packed beaches on a 4th of July weekend — though in this case, they didn't seem too bothered when their dockmates flopped over them or started fights.
  • Locals and visitors alike were happily spending their afternoon taking photos, pointing out their favorites and watching the scene unfold like an episode from "The Real Sea Lions of San Francisco" (not a real show, to be clear).

What they're saying: "This feel-good San Francisco story seems to have resonated with many people, and we are seeing many more visitors at Pier 39 for this time of the year," Licciardi said, noting that Pier 39's online sea lion webcam has had increased visits.

  • "We encourage everyone to come see this phenomenon in person if you can!"

Head to our Instagram to see the sea lions in their full glory.

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