The Case of San Francisco's Disappearing Sea Lions


Photo via IndoSpectrum

As early as last month, there were estimated to be at least 1500 sea lions off of San Francisco's famous Pier 39. Now, most appear to have all but vanished. A few stragglers lounge on piers where hundreds of sea lions used to lay in massive stacks--so where did the famous mammals go?The experts can't be sure, but it appears that they've packed up shop to go chase a food source. The Associated Press explains:

The bulk of the herd probably followed their favorite foods, sardines and anchovies . . . The animals began leaving in droves the day after Thanksgiving, almost as if someone had issued an order. But . . . the fact that so many sea lions stayed for so long is even stranger than their disappearance.
Despite the unusual nature of both situations, the experts aren't particularly concerned. From the AP:
"They do move off," Jeff Boehm [executive director of the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito] said, adding that in the fall, older sea lions head to breeding colonies in the Channel Islands, off the coast of Southern California along the Santa Barbara Channel. Younger sea lions, he said, "don't mind those rules and tend to travel far and wide."
And the good news is, they're more than likely to return, which will no doubt please the tourists and local business that benefit from their presence.
Despite the sea lions' abrupt disappearance, Boehm said the Marine Mammal Center is not concerned that they have left for good. While more then the usual number have left - usually about 40 remain - it is very unlikely, Boehm said, that they won't come back. He said the herd will probably come back, as usual, by the spring.
And with it, that familiar barking and pungent smell.

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Tags: Animals | Conservation

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