What do tourists and sea lions have in common? They arrive in droves to claim Pier 39 as their own.
Just when you thought a group of 850-pound 6-foot-long slippery mammals couldn't get any bigger, (the sea lions, not the tourists...) Aquarium of the Bay and Pier 39 announced that today marks the grand opening of the Sea Lion Center, a kick-off event for the 24th anniversary of the sea lions arrival to Pier 39.
The Sea Lion Center overlooks Pier 39's K-Dock, where the sea lions have called dibs and declared home since 1990, shortly after the Loma Prieta Earthquake.
These fin-flapping rock waddlers, are known for their intelligence, loud barking and playfulness -- but don't touch! They may bite if provoked (it's a good thing we are doing our due diligence to bring in hordes of families to gawk at the creatures), and since they are protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act, it is unlawful!
If an intimate encounter with the sea mammals is what you're looking for, you need only step inside the Sea Lion Center where interactive displays, educational videos and presentations are plentiful, along with pelts and skulls to touch -- and a life-size skeleton is on display to see how you measure up next to one of these beasts.
From January 17-20, the public is invited to take the Sea Lion Encounter, a free educational walking tour that ends at the new center, where participants will be provided refreshments and a chance to meet Salty the Sea Lion, among other perks.
Tours depart on the hour from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. from the Sea Lion Statue near the Pier 39 entrance plaza.
Although the sea lions bluster in record-breaking numbers, let's see if Pier 39 visitors can't compete!