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PIER 39 and Aquarium of The Bay Celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the Sea Lions Arrival

San Francisco, California, Jan. 15, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- It was a difficult time for San Francisco in the months following October of 1989.  The community was focused on getting back on their feet after the Loma Prieta earthquake rocked the Bay Area.  Then an extraordinary thing happened - California sea lions began hauling out in PIER 39’s Marina.  

They came sparingly at first, but soon they were coming in droves, reaching a count of 500 in January of 1990.  With its protected environment and proximity to a plentiful food supply in the Bay, PIER 39’s K-Dock quickly became the new home to this colony.  The PIER 39 Marina staff then turned to The Marine Mammal Center, an organization devoted to the rescue and rehabilitation of marine mammals and to the study of marine mammal health, for advice about their new noisy, slippery and smelly guests.  The decision was to let the sea lions stay at PIER 39. 

The boisterous barking pinnipeds were a much-needed bright spot, and to this day they continue to make local, national and international headlines.  Their residency at PIER 39 is truly a natural phenomenon that brings joy to Bay Area locals as well as visitors from around the world. To learn more about the sea lions, visit PIER39.com/sealions.

To commemorate the 30th anniversary of the arrival of the sea lions to PIER 39, thirty six-foot tall Sea Lion Statues painted by thirty local artists, will dot premier spots across San Francisco in late January, where they will remain on display throughout 2020. Conceived by the Smithsonian Affiliated Aquarium of the Bay, Sea Lion Center and jointly implemented with PIER 39, this art installation is part of the largest STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) initiative in California.     

This weekend, January 17-20, the public can celebrate these playful mammals with Sea Lion Discovery Walks at 12pm, 1pm, 2pm and 3pm.  These free 20-minute educational walks will be guided by Aquarium of the Bay Naturalists and will end at the Sea Lion Center.  Tour participants will also be treated to a free refreshment and discount to Aquarium of the Bay.

Additionally, this weekend, guests will be treated to a colorful display of the thirty six-foot tall Sea Lion Statues throughout The PIER. The public is invited to take a self-guided Sea Lion Statue tour where they will learn about the artists and the embedded environmental message on the statues. After January 20, 2020, the Sea Lion Statues will be placed at key locations throughout San Francisco for residents and visitors to enjoy for the remainder of the year. For program details visit aquariumofthebay.org or sealionlove.org.


Saturday, January 17 – Monday, January 20

Sea Lion Discovery Walks

  • Noon, 1pm, 2pm and 3pm
  • Walks depart from the bronze Sea Lion Statue, west of the PIER 39 Entrance Plaza
  • Tour participants receive a complimentary beverage and a discount to Aquarium of the Bay

Sea Lions In San Francisco

The Sea Lion Center  

  • Special daily educational presentations of Sea Lions 101 and What’s for Dinner? take place at 10:30am, 12:30pm, 2:30pm and 4:30pm



For high-resolution photography of PIER 39’s sea lions or video, please contact Anthony Licciardi at (415) 705-5562 or alicciardi@pier39.com.  For high-resolution photography of Aquarium of the Bay’s Sea Lion Statues or video, please contact Rebeca Kaplan at (415) 309-5966 or rebeca@bay.org.    



PIER 39 is a 45-acre waterfront complex that is a gathering place for millions of San Francisco locals and visitors each year.  The PIER is a two-level open-air marketplace featuring over 110 restaurants, shops and attractions, all surrounded by iconic views of the bay and San Francisco landmarks.  PIER 39 also includes a five-acre waterfront park and 300-berth marina, home to the world-famous California sea lions.  An estimated 15 million people visit PIER 39 each year, making it the most popular attraction in the region.  PIER 39 is a tenant of the Port of San Francisco. 

Aquarium of the Bay

Aquarium of the Bay / Bay.org (DBA BayEcotarium) is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization with a mission to enable conversations on climate resilience and ocean conservation globally, while inspiring actionable change locally by protection and preservation of the San Francisco Bay and its ecosystems, from Sierra to the Sea™.  The Smithsonian Affiliated Award-winning, Aquarium of the Bay and the Sea Lion Center on The Embarcadero / PIER 39 lead the organization and are visited by millions.



Sue Muzzin
(415) 705-5541