I visited my sea lion buddies a while ago at Pier 39. Walking through the pier I was surprised there were not many people around until I came upon the sea lion area only to find literally hundreds of people with their cameras getting shots of the lions. You could hear the barking from a block away.
Years ago the sea lions for some unknown reason inhabited that area at pier 39 which was used as docks for small boats. At that time there was major distress over what to do with the sea lions. The boat owners were not happy, the city got involved and everyone was trying to come up with a solution. In the meantime the sea lions were drawing quite a crowd which made the pier 39 ownership sit up and take notice. Long story short Pier 39 won the endless discussions and allowed the sea lions to take residence. Where are the boats? They have docked in another area around pier 39.
Unfortunately another controversy is brewing over these beautiful creatures. You can read the SF Examiner article here. There is one among a few swim clubs called the Dolphin swim club which is comprised of people who like to go and swim in the area. As a result, they do not like sharing that particular part of the bay with the sea lions. They are causing an uproar which is gaining media attention and has residents divided over the situation. The city has proposed firing off some type of mechanism under the ocean to scare off the sea lions. Are they nuts?
My solution is to tell the swimmers to go elsewhere. There are pools all over the city as well as hundreds of miles of ocean in which to swim. If they don't like the sea lions they should leave. Why on earth should we cater to a bunch of elite swimmers who do nothing for our city when the sea lions bring in thousands of tourists and thousands of dollars each year. The sea lions are a major tourist attraction in San Francisco. Hundreds of thousands of tourists visit yearly and make a sea lion visit their priority.
I took a photo and some video for you. As you can see they don’t move around very much but they certainly communicate with all that barking. It’s fun to just watch them and how they interact with each other. They’ll push each other off the dock, then swim around and chase each other. Sometimes they’ll have what seems to be a barking contest - or maybe they’re singing?
So, if you are ever visiting make sure to catch a peek of these guys, you can’t miss them, just follow the bark.