An anchovy feast draws a crush of sea lions to one of San Francisco’s piers, the most in 15 years

May 3, 2024, 8:02 AM | Updated: 10:34 am

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — They’re lounging, biting each other and generally making a ruckus in numbers not seen in more than a decade. And don’t even think about stealing their anchovies.

San Francisco’s famed Fisherman’s Wharf district is seeing a surge in sea lions.

First appearing at Pier 39 after the 1989 earthquake, the sea lions have become a well known tourist attraction. The number of sea lions — marine mammals that make loud barking calls and can weigh up to a half-ton — crashing at the pier fluctuates over the seasons. On most days more than a hundred can be seen.

But this week, Pier 39 harbormaster Sheila Chandor has counted more than 1,000 sea lions, and that’s the most seen there in 15 years. A huge school of anchovies — a favored food of the pinnipeds — brought them there, Chandor said.

“It’s all about the seafood. It’s all about the food,” Chandor said. “A very good way to put it is they are fueling up for the mating season. It’s spring. They are ready to rock and roll down in the Channel Islands, and we’re a nice pit stop with some great seafood.”

The spike in sea lions is indeed only expected to be temporary. But the barges the sea lions lounge on are designed to hold significant weight, and officials admit this current surge is testing their limits.

Biologists said the number of anchovies in the bay that seems to have attracted extra sea lions this spring is especially high. Chandor said the schooling fish were off the Farallon Islands.

Meanwhile, shops and businesses in the area were hoping the sea lion surge would also result in a tourist shopping spree, attracting more visitors to the area. Sea lion lovers have been flocking to the pier to catch a glimpse of the huge, noisy herd.

“I’ve never seen that many sea lions in one place. I heard about this place, and we came here a few minutes ago, and it’s awesome to see them,” said Theresa Simbeck, a visitor from Germany. “It’s very loud, of course, but it’s really nice to see all of them. And it’s funny to watch them fight and relax in the sun.”

Big numbers of sea lions have come to their pier in past years, and some 1,700 have previously arrived, Chandor said. It’s usually 300 to 400 in winter and up to 700 in spring, Chandor said.


Associated Press writer Patrick Whittle in Portland, Maine, contributed to this report.

United States News


KSL Podcasts/Ben Kuebrich

Under scrutiny: Carl Everett and the intricate FBI investigation

Episode 2 of "Ransom: Position of Trust" examines early suspects in the Carl Everett case. Listen now on your favorite podcast app.

3 hours ago

Associated Press

Hamas rocket attack from Gaza sets off air raid sirens in Tel Aviv for the first time in months

DEIR AL-BALAH, Gaza Strip (AP) — Hamas fired a barrage of rockets from Gaza that set off air raid sirens as far away as Tel Aviv for the first time in months on Sunday in a show of resilience more than seven months into Israel’s massive air, sea and ground offensive. There were no immediate […]

6 hours ago

Associated Press

3 falcon chicks hatch atop the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge in New York City

NEW YORK (AP) — Three peregrine falcon chicks have hatched in a nest built at the top of the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge in New York City, officials said. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority Bridges and Tunnels said Friday that the chicks hatched in a nesting box set up by the agency atop a 693-foot-tall (211-meter-tall) tower on […]

17 hours ago

Associated Press

Baltimore police fatally shoot a man who pulls gun during questioning; detective injured

BALTIMORE (AP) — Police officers in Baltimore fatally shot a man who pulled a gun while they questioned him in a different shooting, authorities said. A detective was shot in the chest, and his protective vest likely saved his life, Police Commissioner Richard Worley told reporters. Police were on the city’s south side investigating a […]

19 hours ago

Associated Press

California teenager arrested after crowd pounded and kicked a deputy’s car

HIGHLAND, Calif. (AP) — A teenager was taken into custody after a crowd of young people swarmed a deputy’s patrol car earlier this month, kicking and punching the vehicle before the deputy could drive away, a California sheriff’s office said this week. The 15-year-old male allegedly opened the driver’s door of the San Bernardino Sheriff’s […]

19 hours ago

Travelers walk through Salt Lake City International Airport Friday, May 24, 2024, in Salt Lake City...

Associated Press

Record broken for most travelers screened at US airports on Friday, according to TSA

A record was broken ahead of the Memorial Day weekend for the number of airline travelers screened at U.S. airports.

21 hours ago

Sponsored Articles


Sanderson Ford

3 new rides for 3 new road trips in Arizona

It's time for the Sanderson Ford Memorial Day sale with the Mighty Fine 69 Anniversary, as Sanderson Ford turned 69 years old in May.


Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Beat the heat, ensure your AC unit is summer-ready

With temperatures starting to rise across the Valley, now is a great time to be sure your AC unit is ready to withstand the sweltering summer heat.


Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Day & Night is looking for the oldest AC in the Valley

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.

An anchovy feast draws a crush of sea lions to one of San Francisco’s piers, the most in 15 years