Wildlife Photography: The Sea Lions at Pier 39

_DSC0301LRFor these photos, I used my Nikon D300 (12.3 megapixels) with a 18-270mm lens.  I used an ISO of 400.  These photos were taken early in the morning, around 7:00 a.m.

By far, my absolute favorite thing to do in San Francisco is to go and see the Sea Lions at Pier 39.  The story of how they came to Pier 39 is here.

I love photographing wildlife, it its natural habitat.  I am not a big fan of going to zoos to photograph animals.  The animals just don’t seem happy in some contrived “real-life” habitat, in an enclosure that they can’t escape from, no matter how much it is made to blend in with the animal exhibit.  This is just my own opinion.


I love how this guy seems to be looking right at me.

The sea lions at Pier 39 are in their natural habitat, and we are so lucky to be able to witness them from a distance doing what they do.  Sleeping, playing and pushing each other off of the floating docks, and making a heck of a lot of noise in the process.  Extremely entertaining.

_DSC0505aLR _DSC0518LR
This sea lion looks blissfully happy, just rubbing up agains the moss on this post.


Thankfully, the sea lions have provided a win/win for the shop owners at Pier 39, which translates into a dramatic increase in business when they are present.   That’s the only reason the sea lions have been allowed to take up prime real estate in San Francisco Bay.


What are you looking at?

In 2009 and again in 2014, the sea lions disappeared for a few months, but then came back to the safe haven of Pier 39, which provides an ample food source, and protection from predators.

Leave it to me to find an injured sea lion:

_DSC0538LR_DSC0539LROf course, I reported to the marine mammal rescue group that I saw this injured sea lion, but apparently, they won’t rescue from Pier 39 because of the disruption to the other sea lions.  Apparently it causes quite a commotion when a rescue is attempted, so the sea lion has to be ashore anywhere BUT Pier 39 in order to be rescued.  I was also told by the rescue group that sea lions can adapt quite will without that flipper.  It still managed to haul itself up onto the floating dock.  I hope this sea lion is okay.

I love photographing and making movies of these loud, barking, pinniped beauties, anytime, anywhere.

Click Sea Lions at Play for a short video:


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