January 11, 2010

San Francisco’s Sea Lions Migrate To Oregon Coast

Thousands of San Francisco's famous sea lions are now calling the Oregon Coast home after their mysterious disappearance from San Francisco's famous Pier 39.

Marine experts now believe the sea mammals headed 500 miles north to the Sea Lion Caves near Florence, beginning in October, about the same time San Francisco's population began to dwindle.

The California sea lions appear to have made the trip for a cooler climate and the abundance of anchovies at the Oregon site.

Bob Emmett, a fisheries biologist for NOAA Fisheries Service in Newport, told the Associated Press (AP) the anchovies are so plentiful in Oregon waters that brown pelicans that normally winter in California are also hanging around.

Kim Raum-Suryan, a biologist at the Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport, told AP, "My gut feeling is it has something to do with the (ocean warming) El Nino conditions off California, which is driving prey and sea lions up north."

Biologists predict the sea lions will do well in their new home. However, some think the sea lions may migrate south in June, when breeding season begins off the southern California coast.

Back at Pier 39, a marketplace and arcade with a view of Alcatraz, public relations director Sue Muzzin told AP she was happy to hear a couple dozen sea lions barking Thursday, and hopes any that are in Oregon left their hearts in San Francisco.

"People are taking photos of the dock because it is so atypical," she added. "You don't realize how much you miss them 'til they're gone."


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