There may be more than 1,000 sea lions on SF’s Pier 39 right now, sunning themselves, barking, and getting good and fat, largely thanks to a school of anchovies available for them to feast upon.

The giant pack of sea lions at Fisherman’s Wharf’s Pier 39 has not always been there at Pier 39. They showed up in 1989, according to the official Pier 39 website, and boat owners weren’t particularly happy about their arrival. But we decided to let them stay, because tourists love them, and they bring people down to the Wharf. And now, 35 years later, 2024 is shaping up to be a banner year for sea lions, as the Chronicle reports that the Pier 39 sea lion population is currently at a seven-year high.

“The sea lion count has been the highest it's been in 7 years, surpassing a whopping 820 sea lions (and counting)!” the pier’s harbormaster Sheila Candor said in a Monday Facebook post. “This influx can be tied to the large school of anchovy coming from the Farallon Islands just outside of the Golden Gate Bridge.”

There is some dispute on the actual numbers of sea lions currently at Pier 39. Candor said the population is “surpassing a whopping 820 sea lions,” whereas the Chronicle reports “there are currently more than 1,000 pinnipeds” there. (“pinnipeds” is the scientific term for seals in general.) Either way, it’s certainly a population surge.

And this is not even the peak season for sea lions at Pier 39, as the dock usually sees its largest numbers of sea lions from September through November.

So why are the sea lions at Pier 39? We don’t know, and we’ve never figured it out. And while the boaters didn’t like them at first, the very amusing 1990 Good Morning America segment above (narrated by Ronald Reagan Jr.!) explains why the sea lions were allowed to stay. As then-owner Steve Wiezbowski of the now-defunct Fisherman's Wharf restaurant Neptune’s Palace explained, “Our business has essentially doubled since our friends the sea lions have arrived at Pier 39.”

You can always watch the exploits of these thousand or so sea lions from the comfort of your own home, on the Pier 39 sea lion live webcam.

Related: An Ode to 30 Years of Pier 39's Sea Lions [SFist]

Image: PIER 39 & Sea lions - stock photo (Getty Images)