Tuesday, 2 September 2008
Sea Lebrities family at Pier 39
Fisherman's warf in San Francisco is listed in my San Francisco Rough Guide as the top tourist destination of the city, one of the top attractions in the entire country despite the fact that is probably the cheesiest part of the city. I agree
Yet, there is a reason for it. It is the home of a few hundreds sea lions, or "Sea Lebrities" as they are endearly coined by the marina staff. The boisterous barking pinnipeds started arriving in droves, taking over the docks in January 1990 shortly after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. At first they numbered from 10-50, but due to a plentiful herring supply, available dock space and the marina’s protected environment, the population grew to more than 300 within a few months. Each winter, the population can increase up to 900 sea lions, most of which are male. During the summer months, the sea lions migrate south to the Channel Islands for breeding season, but in recent years a small group stays year-round at PIER 39's K-Dock. Staff from The Marine Mammal Center’s Kiosk, located next to the sea lions, are happy to inform visitors about these fun, flippered animals. Each weekend, weather permitting, the Center provides volunteer docents at K-Dock who explain sea lion behaviors and answer visitors’ questions.
I 've spent a beautiful hour watching these sweethearts and I can tell you that they are grouped in families, the babies are always close to the mother and the dad is not far away.
Young adults are engaging in courtous activity and it is indeed so captivating to watch.
They are clearly accustomed to the attention and photographic clicks as they sunbathe on the docks without seeming to be bothered by the hundreds of tourists and amateur photographers flooding the area at any given time.
I was lucky enough as the weather was beautiful and I had the chance to stay for a long time to observe them. They are extremely playful, even if at the begining one might think that they just lay under the sun being lazy (like me in Naxos). But they are not. They keep jumping in and out of the water and it is remarkable how high they can jump! They bite, caress, talk, even kiss each other and of course protect their kin from strangers. How lovely!
Next time in San Francisco I am definitely spending more time there and if I can try to get some more info from the marine mammal's center kiosk and perhaps do some volunteer Saturday work in caring for them.
The happy animal lover/photographer
PS: I would like to thank Marc, my friend from Cisco France, for coming with me, being patient for the hundreds of pictures I took along our stroll, and that he took a picture of me as well :-). Marc, j'espere que tu as bien aimer aussi.