Sea Lions Invade San Francisco

By | Category: Travel destinations

That headline could be considered to be the announcement of a horror movie. It isn’t but there is an invasion. For those of you who have been to San Francisco, one of the touristy things to do is to go to Pier 39 and watching the sea lions basking on some low level wooden docks. The occasional scraps and growls as another tries to take over the space of another gives photo opportunities for visitors as the 10-20 sea lions swam around.

This year the numbers have increased. The last estimate is 1,585. And that number of sea lions takes up a lot of space. So much space that adjoining marinas and other piers have been invaded.

Why the massive numbers? It seems that back in August the effects of El Nino caused a disruption in the Pacific Ocean. Shoals of sardines suddenly came into San Francisco and where the sardines went, the sea lions followed. And like many a tourist they rather liked what they saw so instead of heading back out to sea, a lot stayed.

And as the sea lions followed the sardines so they were followed by more visitors. Now locals say there are too many. But sea lions are a protected species so what to do? Scaring them away is one idea (doesn’t work with the bats in Sydney see CD-Traveller 2 Oct 2010) but you’ll also see some tourists go as well.

So just like the world over the debate between how much tourism is acceptable goes on. (If you want to read a longer piece about the issue see


UPDATE: 3/01/2010 the sea lions have left the harbour and have been found further up the coast in Oregon. Will this tourist draw return at some stage or will Oregon attract the tourists instead

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