San Francisco summer - the calendar one - is not something that you would classify as a typical summer. With temperatures often lingering somewhere in the range of 60 degrees F ( +17 degrees C), plus/minus a few, and abundance of fog, when a sunny day comes around it is time for outside fun.
Fisherman's Wharf is a world famous tourist attraction for a good reason. From well-known Boudin's clam chowder to Museum Mechanique , it's all there for your delight, and then , of course the sea lions at Pier 39.
Lovingly known as "sea-lebrities" among locals and tourists alike, Pier 39 sea lions hold their title with pride rightfully so. The animals are found all along the California coast, but favored the pier in 1990, shortly after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. The first low numbers of 10-15 sea lions occupied the dock - then filled with boats - presenting the owners and workers with a question of how to rid the pier of the "guests". After lengthy discussions and observations that included the involvement of Marina Mammal Center, it was clear that the animals had zero interest in relocating. Pier 39 lovingly embraced the new tenants by relocating the boats elsewhere at the pier and building twelve floats for the sea-lions' comfort. The sea lions appreciated the kind heart... and quadrupled their numbers.
If initially only starting with a couple of dozens , if so, now the sea-lebrities range in the numbers from 150 to 600+ ( late July to mid May). In June and July most of teh sea lions head south to breeding grounds on the Channel islands, but a few handfuls still remain throughout the summer to keep the attraction live and entertain the tourists. As we visited the dock in June, the numbers were low, but that did not take away from the enjoyment and the little crew spent good two hours laughing and watching the sea lions interact. A few curious seagulls only added to entertainment.
Here are a few fun facts about the sea lions:
* sea lions are quite the social butterflies. they live in large groups , sometimes the group numbers may very in thousands.
* sea lions are very skilled divers. they can go as far as 600 feet under water and stay as long as 40 minutes under at a time.
* sea lion pups are born weighing in at around 13-15 lbs of absolute adorableness, typically born between May and July. female sea lions carry their pups for 12 months.
*sea lions whiskers - called vibrissas - help them navigate through ocean waters. each vibrissa has the ability to rotate much like a straw inside of the bottle. extremely sensitive vibrissas help sea lioins sense any potential food floating near.
*sea lion flippers not only help them get around the land, but also act like a heating-cooling system. when it is cold, blood vessels in flippers constrict and prevent heat from escaping. during heat blood circulates to the flippers to help the sea lion cool down.
^^ nice warm sun, good conversations, clapping game and bird watching. life is good. especially when you are a baby!^^
^^ although there weren't hundreds of the sea-lebrities as there typically are, the few that are here are still just as entertaining to watch. trust me ^^
^^ his interests were clearly more in the tourist section, then in the sea lion area. oh, well. we've got many years ahead to make up for this. ^^
^^ the older three were "glued" for two hours. and would , probably, stay for more, IF the sun didn't set and the temperatures didn't drop into nice and pleasant 50s ^^
^^ while older ones were busy observing, the younger ones were busy discovering. brother's watch, for example, is a very useful toy ^^
^^ and how about the "celebrity" status?! who knew that a crew of five is a bigger tourist attraction when the sea lions themselves ^^
^^ the beautiful Pier 39 and contagious smile of a photographer in training. my lips stretch corner to corner every time i glance at it. ^^