Famed San Francisco Sea Lions Leave In Droves

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2 mysteries surround a huge herd of sea lions that were hanging out on a pier in San Francisco Bay: Why did so many shows up and why did so many leave at once?

Just last month, Pier 39, famous in San Francisco for its sea lions also the throngs of tourists they attract, was groaning below the weight of more than 1,500 of the animals. The record number delighted tourists also baffled experts. Marine experts suspect the sea lions came and stayed for the food, then gone mostly for the same reason.

"Most likely, they left chasing a food source," said Mr. Jeff Boehm, executive director of the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, which runs an information center as well as gift shop at Pier 39. "It is probably what kept them here in the first place."

The animals start leaving in droves the day after Thanksgiving, almost as if someone had issued an order. But Jeff Boehm said the fact that so many sea lions stayed for so long is even stranger than their disappearance. "They do move off," Jeff Boehm said, adding that in the fall, older sea lions head to.

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