Pier 39 hosted about 35 lounging sea lions this afternoon, to the delight of guests and Pier 39 officials alike.
Before the sea lions’ disappearance in late November, Pier 39 spokeswoman Sue Muzzin said Pier 39 “actually looked like a frat at one time, it was unbelievable.”
After a record-high 1,701 sea lions in October, the sea lions inexplicably disappeared in late November, leaving the dock bare and tourists disappointed. However, there has been a steady increase in their numbers, Muzzin said. And over the past two weeks, up to 100 sea lions have been on the dock each day.
“We’ve missed them and we’re really happy to have them coming back,” Muzzin said.
Pier 39 Harbor Master Sheila Chandor said it has not been determined, however, that the sea lions at the dock today are the same sea lions that disappeared in November.
Regardless, she said she is waiting for at least a couple hundred sea lions to return for the 20th anniversary celebration, which was originally planned for January but was postponed until more arrive.
Chandor said one theory for their disappearance is that the majority went up to Oregon following food sources. But the increase in herring in the San Francisco Bay, typical for this time of year, may be drawing some of them back.